Solar Superstorms

2015, Science  -  45 min Leave a Comment
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This episode of Cosmic Journeys educates viewers on the turbulent nature of solar activity, how superstorms that occur on the sun have impacted Earth in the past, and what threat they may pose to us in the future. An informative documentary relying primarily on fluid visuals and authoritative voice-over, Solar Superstorms takes viewers to the surface of the sun and beyond.

The first recorded major solar event, specifically a coronal mass ejection (CME), occurred on September 1st, 1859. A CME is an eruption of gas and magnetic fields, and this particular event sent over one billion tons of solar particles blasting towards Earth, creating auroras visible as far as the tropics. Over one-hundred years later, another major solar outburst had an effect that was much less pleasing to the eye - it disabled Quebec's hydro-solar power grid and left over six million people without power for nine hours.

Solar plasma now poses an especially dangerous threat considering how interconnected Earth's power and information systems have become. With the Internet now in the picture, an event akin to the Quebec power-outage would be significantly more devastating. With the current knowledge that solar plasma can create risks to electrical grids, scientists have developed tools in the form of spacecraft and supercomputers to monitor and track solar activity. This has granted extra insight into the workings of the sun and more accurate space-weather forecasting. These tools have taught scientists that the sun's core is a sort of "nuclear furnace" that creates enough heat and pressure to instigate fusion reactions that lead to solar eruptions.

With a predicted rate of solar storm activity being every 150 years, Solar Superstorms suggests we may be due for another outburst and asks how we can brace ourselves for the inevitable fallout. An aesthetically rich film full of trippy, undulating visuals in the form of high quality computer models and top-notch animations, the spectacle of solar storms is presented in this hypnotic, almost psychedelic display. Visually dynamic and highly informative, this film will have broad appeal to those interested in a variety of scientific fields, not just the study of the sun.