Last August I wrote one of my favorite columns. It was about solar flares and their potential impact on earth. Then, in November, I wrote another column about the asteroid YU55 that was heading towards earth. It was expected to come within 200,000 miles, passing closer to earth than the moon. These were big stories spelling out the potential disruption of power grids and possibly bringing civilization as we know it to an end.
But once again this week we are being warned of extraordinary sun spot activity. Additionally, we are under the threat of a newly discovered asteroid spotted swooping down toward planet earth.
Beginning at 7AM eastern time this morning, the earth was being bombarded with highly charged solar energy particles. These originated from an unusually large storm on the surface of the sun which occurred on Tuesday. The particles traveled to the earth at millions of miles per hour and started glancing off our atmosphere today. No need to break out your aluminum foil hats or fire up the generator. Once again, there have been no widespread ill effects reported.
Earlier in the week, there was a story about a new asteroid called 2012 DA14 which is expected to make a fly by next year. This one will come so close it will be closer to the earth than many of the satellites we have in orbit. In February 2013, 2012 DA14 is projected to pass less than 17,000 miles of the surface of earth. The exact position and orbit are not known and so it may be further or might actually hit the earth. By the way, if it does miss us it will be back in 2056.
So if a truly destructive magnetic storm does occur or a huge rock falls from the sky and hits the earth with the force of a nuclear bomb, my guess is we will be caught off guard.
Like cyber threats or the threat of nuclear destruction, none of this will be taken seriously by most people until the lights go out. By then, of course, it will be too late.
Follow me on Twitter @JPuglisiLLC