Storms from the Sun: The Emerging Science of Space Weather

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Author: Michael Carlowicz

Format: International Edition

Details: From Booklist Since the invention of the telegraph, operators of communications technologies have noted that the Sun somehow disrupts their systems, while scientists have investigated how the Sun wreaks such havoc. At this intersection of practical concerns and pure research lies this excellent history and status report about the Sun's impact on our ever-more-networked civilization. Written by a science writer (Carlowicz) and a scientist of space weather (Lopez), the work swings from recounting the serious damage inflicted on satellites and power grids by solar storms to relaying the principal discoveries of the Sun's effects on the earth's near-space environment. The authors describe early experiments that established a basic model for space weather, a magnetic "cavity" surrounding the earth that is incessantly buffeted by the Sun's magnetic field. The latter intensifies phenomenally when a "coronal mass ejection" carries plasma and magnetism to the neighborhood. The authors' explanation of the physics involved is clearly understandable to curious nonscientists. An accessible companion to Jay Pasachoff and Leon Golub's Nearest Star [BKL Mr 1 01]. Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved Product Description

From the casual conversation starter to the 24-hour cable channels and Web sites devoted exclusively to the subject, everyone talks about weather. There's even weather in space and it's causing major upsets to our modern technological world.

Space weather is all around us. There are no nightly news reports on space weather (yet), but we're rapidly developing the tools necessary to measure and observe trends in cosmic meteorology. New probes are going on-line that help us monitor the weather taking place miles above the Earth.

But why does space weather matter? It doesn't affect whether we bring an umbrella to work or require us to monitor early school closings. It's far, far away and of little concern to us . . . right? March 13, 1989. The Department of Defense tracking system that keeps tabs on 8,000 objects orbiting Earth suddenly loses track of 1,300 of them. In New Jersey, a $10 million transformer is burned up by a surge of extra current in the power lines. Shocks to a power station in Quebec leave 6 million people without electricity. New England power stations struggle to keep their power grid up. Listeners tuning in to their local stations in Minnesota hear the broadcasts of the California Highway Patrol. Residents of Florida, Mexico, and the Grand Cayman Islands see glowing curtains of light in the sky.

All of these bizarre, and seemingly unconnected, events were caused by a storm on the Sun and a fire in the sky. A series of solar flares and explosions had launched bolts of hot, electrified gas at the Earth and stirred up the second largest magnetic storm in recorded history. Before rockets and radio and the advent of other modern devices, we probably would never have noticed the effects of this space storm. But in today's electrically powered, space-faring world, the greatest space storm of the twenty-second solar maximum rang like a wake-up call.

And we are now in the midst of another solar maximum, the effects of which are expected to be felt all the way through the year 2004. Storms from the Sun explores the emerging physical science of space weather and traces its increasing impact on a society that relies on space-based technologies.

Authors Carlowicz and Lopez explain what space weather really means to us down here, and what it may mean for future explorations and colonization of distant worlds. By translating the findings of NASA and other top scientists into fascinating and accessible descriptions of the latest discoveries, we are privy to some of the most closely held secrets that the solar terrestrial system has to offer.

From Library Journal Science writer and education specialist Carlowicz (NAS

Languages: English

Item Condition: CollectibleLikeNew

Binding: Hardcover