Do you remember all the stories that were prompted by solar flares back in the 70s? They were excellent, it was like the universe was sending us an amazing signal and it had the potential to change everything. Our watches would stop, our electricity would disappear and the world as we knew it would cease to be. We would have a violence free apocalyptic moment and it would come out of the sky.
The visuals were spectacular, great orange geysers of gas exploding out from the sun. Giant oceans were boiling in the sky and sending spouts of change into our world. Nature was giving us a light show we would never forget. We quickly followed her lead and created stories great and not so great about life with flares. “Where Have All The People Gone”, released in 1974 told a dark and eerie tale of the disappearance of most of the Earth’s inhabitants as a result of those mysterious flares. From “Ringworld” to “Star Wars” we saw science fiction re-establish itself as a leading genre. The flares sparked our imagination.
One of my favorite movies about flares wasn’t actually made until 2000 and it’s called, “Frequency”. The film has a father and son talking to each other through time on an old radio because of the flares. I won’t get into the story, but it was fun. Mystery, magic, murder and mayhem, doesn’t get much better than that if you’re into science fiction.
So why am I telling you about flares? I was having a bit of a flare up myself reading some astoundingly irresponsible headlines that were reassuring the public that climate change was all a big misunderstanding and the Earth was actually cooling, when I decided I needed to do something to put myself in a better mood and went in search of science stories. I came across a treasure chest of hysterical flare stories that were centred around a prediction that some time in September 2013 we could see catastrophic destruction on Earth because of solar flares. There were YouTube videos and articles about how flares were going to destroy satellite dishes and cause huge amounts of damage as they took out essential communications, potentially cutting off whole communities. The American government was quietly ordering food to put in storage…I could go on.
I started laughing, it was like getting a chance to go back to childhood and see the solar stories from an adult’s perspective. I looked at NASA’s recent solar flare images and was enthralled with flares all over again. We live in an amazing world. It’s easy to get distracted and forget to take a look around and appreciate all the wonder, even the silly stories.
What about you? What does mother nature do that leaves you spellbound or captures your imagination?
Image: This image from June 20, 2013, at 11:15 p.m. EDT shows the bright light of a solar flare on the left side of the sun and an eruption of solar material shooting through the sun’s atmosphere, called a prominence eruption. Shortly thereafter, this same region of the sun sent a coronal mass ejection out into space. Credit: NASA/SDO