Why should we worry about the big blackout

One night in September 1859, and Astronomer Richard Carrington A rare activity on the sun was detected from an observatory in England. What I was seeing was one of the first recorded solar storms. This event, which was called the Carrington event, caused the aurora borealis to occur throughout Europe. They were even seen in Spain. On that occasion, it was not only the aurora borealis, but also influenced the elementary technology of that time: the Telegraph.

Some lines caught fire in Europe and the United States. Although this may seem very far away, we have recent examples. In 1989, a solar storm in Canada left more than five million people without electricity for nine hours. “We know that the aurora borealis is a precursor to something worse,”explains Emilio Domenech, who highlights that the aurora borealis was seen in Extremadura in April 2023. But can it happen again? What is the probability that this will happen again?

To find out , the journalist makes a video call in this video with Isabel Serra, PhD in mathematics from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and per Puig, professor of mathematics, who explains Why the 1% chance of a solar storm should worry us. “It’s too much,” he points out. “I think if we roll a dice three times and ask ourselves what the probability of getting three sixes is half of that 1%, that’s too much,”says the expert. That is, to calculate this figure, mathematicians take as a reference the Carrington event, one of the most difficult solar storms that the Earth has encountered.

But, What kind of consequences do we face with such an event? “At the moment, the impact will be much greater, because in the end we have to understand that the solar storm will affect these transformers, which is a little how the loss is measured,” recalls the expert, who admits.”

“We could be talking about two years in some risk areas without a solution to the electricity shortage and this could affect up to 20 or 40 million people in more dangerous areas,” explain the mathematicians, who warn that no administration has contacted them to take possible measures.

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About the Author: Muhammad Idham