Carrington Events

Lately I’ve been a bit negative on other people’s predictions. The Woosley sent me a corrective to my ego. The picture below is a count of sunspot numbers. It is a bit hard to read in this format, but it shows the very low counts at the beginning of 1800s, which are very similar to the low counts we are having today. From out of low counts came the worst solar event measured, so maybe I shouldn’t discount space weather entirely over the next few years.

Now, 1859 had the largest event on record. (As a side note, prior to 1844, we could have had one of those events every week and not a soul would have known about it. Measuring large scale magnetic field changes is easily done with large wires. Much less easily done with thousands of small magnetic field measuring devices. Since the theory of electro-magnetism was developed by Hans Christian ├śrsted in the 1820s and long wires came with telegraphs in 1844, there weren’t a lot of B-measurement straight through the 1900’s.

Nonetheless, we are confident that a Carrington event is at least as rare as once a century and hopefully once every two centuries. I don’t think this record gives a good case of a Carrington event closer than say … 2059… But I admit that 1 data point is hardly a sample set. We should be cautious looking at the sun. It may be peaceful today, and flinging waves of high energy radiation at us the next. Furthermore, the sun’s magnetic field is our primary protection against galactic cosmic rays (GCR) which will increase substantially if the sun remains inactive magnetically.

Active Denial System

Sorry for the light posting the last month. Tons of exciting things are going on, but work is keeping me too busy to play around. Not to mention, it is summer and kids are keeping me busy as well. This should take your mind off of all that. Lots of Boom. Yes, this IS hitting a bullet with a bullet. Well, more precisely hitting a missile with an explosive charge…still, same concept.

CBS writes Propaganda

This hit piece came out yesterday on the AP. It is a propaganda hit piece. This “news” uses facts, but neglects to put any information with the facts. The piece hedges each piece of information with how dangerous could this be… then later explains that it probably isn’t quite as bad as they said. BUT, they don’t say “Actually, all this is safe and within current safety limits.”

Why? Feel free to drink water with a high concentration of tritium. It is perfectly safe. Tritium is an beta emitter. Beta particles don’t penetrate skin. They don’t penetrate the lining of your stomach. Hydrogen isn’t a core element absorbed by the human body. Heavy water (water with one of the hydrogen molecules replaced by tritium) would be somewhat worse, causing a mild beta source to be spread throughout the body. But, it doesn’t last long (7 to 14 days) and hasn’t been shown to be a cancer risk. Which means that a month after exposure, if you haven’t developed an effect, you won’t.

The concept that ANY exposure to radiation increases cancer risk is also pure propaganda. It hasn’t been shown, in fact, there is (possibly literally) tons of evidence that small doses seem to be more beneficial than harmful. But heck, people believe that a single molecule of aspirin can cure your fever (homeopathy) so the placebo damage of radiation must be taken as some kind of unscientific fact.

Tritium is Hydrogen. Frankly, it is a light gas and hard to keep bottled up. Hydrogen leaks. It also escapes the atmosphere at a steady pace. Most Tritium in the environment is from nuclear weapon tests by various countries, but the 1/2 life is only 12.3 years, so the amount we generated in the 70’s is pretty much gone. Some is generated from higher order products decaying, some is generated by volcanoes, some is generated by nuclear power plants.

While it is easily detectable, in units like 1 atom of Tritium for 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms of other stuff. (1e18) It isn’t harmful in anything like those quantities. Feel free to drink all the tritiated water from all the reactor leaks. You wouldn’t be harmed. It takes potassium, radium, uranium, or plutonium to get a good biological effect. Everything else is just fear mongering.

Why? Environmentalists made a bad decision. When they found a way to demonize carbon, they hoped to drive coal and oil out of the market. They hoped that that would increase demand for “green” choices. The assumption was that nuclear power was too expensive, and that significant government investment in green energy would make it competitive against nuclear power. This would move solar/wind up, coal back, a greener world. However, no amount of investment has brought either of those sources under a dollar a kilowatt-hour. I only pay $0.12 a kw-hr (TVA is amazing), but even in California they aren’t paying over a quarter. Under the best conditions, this would quadruple your energy bill. In the worst, it would be x10. 

It isn’t affordable and they know it. They want to believe in their hearts that the government can supply free power for everyone. In socialist (oil rich) countries, this is possible. Our country is richer than theirs…but the cost of energy is much higher here. It is beyond the government’s ability to provide. It would be much easier, and cheaper, to solve the carbon problem with dozens of new nuclear power plants. 

Now, the environmentalists were stuck with an obvious contradictions. So, they have done everything they can to demonize nuclear power. Fukashima… I’m sorry that there was some radiation leakage there, but understand, it was in a disaster that killed 10,000 people. And the power plant killed 0. (ok, a crane fell on a guy during the flooding, ok, 1, but not a nuclear related death.)

Grow up, read the real evidence, and understand that the media prefer “death and destruction” to “well, it really doesn’t hurt you.”  The media won’t educate you, they are ignorant themselves.  I wish they would wake up and realize that they were pure political puppets, but I suspect they wouldn’t care. I think they enjoy “working for the cause” as much as anyone. Don’t be fooled. Be Educated.

The Solar Schedule

I’m part of an informal team of scientists who frequently comment on many issues. The sun is one of our strengths. I’ve been watching Stephanie and Jim pick apart the current solar cycle and (I wish they would post this) I guess I will summarize the general consensus.

Looking at the current state of the solar cycle

A photo of a sunspot taken in May 2010, with Earth shown to scale. The image has been colorized for  aesthetic reasons. This image with 0.1 arcsecond resolution from the Swedish 1-m Solar  Telescope represents the limit of what is currently possible in te

 Figure 1. Just look at how amazing the sun is, as it comes to eat us.

It appears that my early predictions are correct. It would appear that we are very near the solar maximum for this cycle.


The picture I’m linking to, below, shows solar maximum way out in 2013-2014, but indications from the current drop in sunspot frequency and size (yeah, thats a little sunspot) say that we are already reaching the peak activity, or have passed it. I was predicting December 2011 for max.

Figure 2. A simple counting of sunspot numbers each month to tell us where we are in the solar cycle.

The good doctor Osborne writes: “some solar scientists are thinking we’re going back into an extended minimum, a la the Maunder Minimum, and we ARE roughly due for a Dalton minimum about now. Together, the last Dalton, Maunder, Sporer, and Wolf minima seem to have comprised “The Little Ice Age.” Singularly, however, the Dalton minimum was responsible for “The Year Without A Summer.” Some think the Dalton was due to high volcanism (like we haven’t had that lately), but other analyses indicate it to be a periodic solar cycle ~420 yr, hence the consideration that we may be entering the next Dalton minimum.”

So, are we due for Global Cooling? I do agree that a lot happens “at the margins” in warming. For example, the exact extent of ice in the Arctic Circle is likely linked more closely to the solar cycle than the growing season in Kansas. Still, a year without a summer (in England) doesn’t sound like the margins at all. That sounds like a 20 degree drop in temperature, which is a significant loss in solar intensity. But frankly, the global warming/global cooling data sets are minimal with respect to time. In a thousand years I expect we will have a good grasp of short term and medium term processes, and still be having arguments about the ice ages.

Still, I think it is a good time to panic, fling your arms in the air, and run around in circles shouting, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling.” Heck, it couldn’t hurt. Maybe you will make a few hundred million dollars for your efforts.

credit for image

Solar Proton Events

Did A Massive Solar Proton Event Fry The Earth ?

This is literally one of my favorite subjects, so pardon me if I digress a bit. Today we had a beautiful eruption, see below, which is spectacular only because we have good camera on it. Basically, this is like comparing bugs in your garden with bugs in a National Geographic Magazine. Suddenly Mr. Bug is exciting with brilliant colors. Well, the new satellites and camera we have at the sun are really spectacular, compared to the SOHO camera which was about all we had before.

So how does this compare with the Planet Killer burst from 12, 500 years ago? Really? The event today was an M class flare, which really has no measurable effect on the earth. We (used to) have X class flare all the time, and they are 5 times, at minimum, worse. The planet killer is compared to the 1956 event, which was at least 50 times more powerful. So the ancient event was at least 5000 times worse than the one this morning. 

But, to be honest, I don’t see how their dose calculations could ever work out. I just don’t see the sun providing enough pure radiation dose to kill everything, without sterilizing the planet. Or simply crisping it with pure heat.

However, the dispersion is acceptable, in that an event could be limited to the Northern Hemisphere.  (The magnetic fields can’t be “removed” but they can be “squished” down to Southern Florida. If the particle dose was sufficient to kill things on the ground, it would kill all the creatures North and South of say 20 degrees latitude and leave everything around the equator. As the Equator is fairly central to South America and Africa, the magnetic field would protect them, leaving North America and Europe affected.
Still, a weird result worth looking into..

No, don’t worry about this flare

Oh, side note. They mention that the ancient flare may have damaged the Ozone layer. Is it possible the most recent drop in the ozone layer wasn’t related to CFCs, but was instead related to Solar Events? Just a thought.

Friday Information

Hey Everyone!
 Sorry I ditched out this week, it has been hectic at work. Computer issues, health issues, money issues. I also managed to double up my work-outs for this week, so I am pretty beat.

Beer Review or What has Hawk been Drinking?

Magic Hat

They have one dark beer, their winter seasonal, called “Howl.” Looking at their website, I can see that there are several of their beers that I haven’t tried yet. BUT, from the trials of Wacko, Vinyl, #9, Choir Boy, and something else… well … Howl Doesn’t Suck.
Magic Hat makes an ok beer, but it is off my buy list. Sure, there are a lot of worse beer out there, but for my $9… well… I can get anything by flying dog and not have a metal taste in my mouth when I am finished. Beet Juice? Come on…it was nasty.

Samuel Adams:

Sam Adams puts out a lot of beer, and a lot of it I do not like. I really can’t care about Boston Lager. It isn’t bad (if you are wise, serve it just cooler than room temperature) but cold it is bad. Their Boston Ale is more “Lagery” than their Lager. Heck, most of their ales are lagers, and most suck. I like their Scotch Ale, which tastes like a Bock, but it a good beer. BUT lets talk about their new line of high alcohol beer.

Imperial White, Imperial Stout, and Dopple Bock. – wow.

K? Was that clear enough?

The Imperial White is what you wanted when you bought those expensive Monk Ales. Some of them produce this, but most do not.

The Dopple Bock is essentially a dark Monk ale. It is all but a Barley Wine. So high in alcohol, I get drunk thinking about it.

I’m heading out tonight to try the Imperial Stout. I’m sure it will be good. So if you see a drunk guy in a kilt, well, it MIGHT be me.

Speaking of Beer – Important Link: Less Beer for Fewer Mosquito Bites!

Summer Reading

Old novels make great summer reading, don’t cost a lot, especially on a Nook, and you can go through six or seven without feeling guilty.

Right now I’m reading an Old Jane Fancher novel. She is a great writer. Her work needs to be explored a lot more than it has. Buy a copy of Groundties today. Or check out her Ring of Lighting series. Both are really solid novels. Also reading the C.J. Cherryh novels from her Merchanter series. Love em. I’ll do titles when I’m not late for a meeting.
groundties slide show

Go to Closed Circle to buy books.