Trouble With Ra’s Acne

It is a long time since we had one of those “we are all going to die” posts, and I’m worried you might be missing them (hi Kendall!), so here’s a doozy.

Via Damien G. Walter I discover this article in New Scientist that suggests there’s something wrong with the sun. It is a very interesting survey of our knowledge of sunspot cycles, which appears to be somewhat lacking because there are currently nowhere near as many spots on Lord Ra’s face as predicted.

Of course this is hardy surprising. The sun is billions of years old, and we have only been observing it seriously for a a couple of hundred of them. Our data is incomplete. But there’s a prevailing view that sunspot activity is a bit like earthquakes or volcanoes: if you don’t get a lot of action for a long time, something big is probably on the way.

That something big is unlikely to be death rays, but it could play havoc with our technology. NASA, who have more interest in what happens in space than most organizations, is understandably worried. Cue the Daily Telegraph warning of “devastation”. Sadly they forget to mention Mayan prophecies or movies based thereon.

3 thoughts on “Trouble With Ra’s Acne

  1. EEK! You knew I’d have to freak out comment. 😉

    The New Scientist makes me want to hide in my basement, while the Daily Telegraph makes me fear for my iPod. Good grief!

    Overall, it sounds like we’ll survive, though I feel like I’ve read this plot (“all tech fails,” to exaggerate the Telegraph) in SF before. Also, I’m unclear as to how much of it’s really just wild guessing….

    Could there be more sunspots happening than they realize–just coincidentally many of them happening on the other side of the sun? (And here I confirm my ignorance of all things solar.)

    1. I suspect much of it is wild guessing, but on the final point I think that NASA probably has the ability to observe the sun from places other than Earth.

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