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1 in 10 Chance of an "Internet Apocalypse" Before 2031

Solar StormScientists at the University of California at Irvine predict that if a rare solar superstorm comes to pass, it could cause a months-long outage for key parts of the Internet. Particularly vulnerable are undersea cables – approximately 1.3 million miles’ worth, on which intercontinental Internet depends.

Solar storms are not new, but obviously disrupting the Earth’s magnetic field didn’t matter much in the 18th century. In our current day and age, with so much of human activity dependent on the Internet, disruptions to these vital links could be devastating particularly if they are long-lasting.

The odds of this happening are between 1.6% and 12% per decade. However, the last time there was a major solar superstorm was 1921 (exactly 100 years ago). If a similar storm took place today, up to 40 million people could be without electricity for up to two years. Under the ocean, Internet links are made up of millions of miles of cable, which transmit signals in the form of light. Every 30-90 miles there is a repeater to amplify the signals, and these repeaters are vulnerable to electrical disruptions.



1 Comment

  1. Geoff:

    You do realise that probability isn’t cumulative, yes? So just because there’s a 1 in 10 chance of something happening in a decade does not mean that if you have ten decades without it happening you will be more likely to see it in the tenth…

    October 19, 2021 @ 11:56 am | Reply

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