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banquo's_bumble_puppy
2003-Dec-02, 05:03 PM
In the science fiction novel: "The Sky So Big and Black"; there is a solar storm that is so intense that it kills colonists on the surface of Mars due to the intense radiation. My question is: could there be a solar "burp" big enough to kill people on Earth? Would the atmosphere provide enough shielding against a really bad storm, (one never seen in historical times). Is it possible that in the life cycle of a star; that there are periods of really violent flaring? :o :o

Kaptain K
2003-Dec-02, 05:53 PM
In the science fiction novel: "The Sky So Big and Black"; there is a solar storm that is so intense that it kills colonists on the surface of Mars due to the intense radiation. My question is: could there be a solar "burp" big enough to kill people on Earth?
Probably not.

Would the atmosphere provide enough shielding against a really bad storm, (one never seen in historical times).
That plus the Earth's magnetic field.

Is it possible that in the life cycle of a star; that there are periods of really violent flaring? :o :o
Yes, but they occur early in the life of the star before it settles down to the quiet life of a main sequence star.

Anthrage
2003-Dec-02, 06:00 PM
If everything happens in exactly the right (or wrong, depending on your point of view) then yes, it is possible. You would need at least 2 very large ejections, with the field of the first precisely matching that of the earth's - and powerful enough to supress it substantially or 'knock it out' for a time. The second ejection would then need to be sufficiently strong to do damage to the unprotected earth.

More likely than everyone being instantly fried, would be a global (well, almost) high level exposure to radiation. Just as flying at high altitude above a good portion of the atmosphere, or in space for example, results in an increased 'dosage' - say 10 to 100 times what you would expect from an X-ray - the same would be the case if the field were suppressed or not present. I'd have to do some calculations, but I do not think it would be possible to kill outright - it would more be a case of everyone's cancer risk being jacked up to 90% or so. :)

That is an interesting idea actually. If some such thing occur that resulted in it being a certainty that the world's current population would develope cancer in the next 10 to 25 years, then I suspect a huge amount of resources would suddenly become available for research towards a cure. In fact, there is one hoax - a global irradiation - that is technologically possible and with a positive result. ;)