On Sept. 2nd 1859, a huge coronal mass ejection (CME) slammed into Earth's magnetic field. Campers in the Rocky Mountains woke up in the middle of the night, thinking that the glow they saw was sunrise. Cubans read their morning paper in the predawn hours by the red light of the brilliant auroral display. Earth was bombarded by particles so energetic, they altered the chemistry of polar ice.
The geomagnetic storm intensified and electrified telegraph lines, shocking operators, setting installations on fire and taking the emerging Victorian Internet offline. Fortunately that represented most of technology sensitive to such events. Its cause was a huge solar flare witnessed the day before by British astronomer Richard Carrington. His observation marked the discovery of solar flares and created the field of space weather.
Studies suggest a similar storm would cause a $1 to $3 trillion dollars of infrastructure damage - including much of the electric grid - and require four to ten years for complete recovery. It is likely that most satellites in near orbit would be taken out. We talk about the technologies that impact us the most, but pull the plug even for a week and your mindset changes.
The question is how often do these huge CMEs happen? We haven't seen auroral displays of this magnitude since and our electrical and electronic infrastructure became increasingly more more vulnerable with increasing scale and complexity. Society managed to dodge a bullet. On July 23, 2012, a CME similar in size to the Carrington event was recorded. It wasn’t aimed at the Earth, so no problem… at least that time. One of the reasons for studying space weather is to provide an early warning system to prepare the grid for local space weather events. As the grid is redesigned some, but probably not enough, effort is going towards making it more robust to large geomagnetic storms.
Steampunk phonetics from the often interesting Languge Log. The early study of sound waveforms using phonauthgraphs.
We have seen that all sound, whether pleasant or unpleasant, whether music or mere noise, is represented by a curve. We shall first examine the general properties of such a curve, trying to discover why some curves produce pleasure when they reach our ears and some pain. We must then consider the transmission of sound, discussing how best to retain the pleasurable qualities in our sound-curve, as it passes on from one carrier to another, and how far it is possible to prevent unpleasant qualities contaminating the curve. Finally we shall have to discuss the strange transformations that the sound-curve may undergo inside our heads.
During the Victorian era there was a trend to popularize science with books, field guides and even amateur scientific instrumentation. Sea-side microscopy was one path.
A writer in the 1850s noted that "we appear to be on the eve of a microscope mania." In some instances, the microscope was "an indispensable aid to science." And in many instances it offered "an inexhaustible treasury of amusement to crowds of amateurs who aim no higher than to obtain a little useful information respecting the nature of the ordinary objects by which they are surrounded, and are content to admire beauty and variety of design, even when they cannot penetrate to final causes."
Two very different approaches were used for the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There was a reason ... and why one survived.
During the cold war planners worried about the effects of bombs and tools were provided to interested citizens. Some have been updated. My high school chemistry teacher had a supply of circular slide rule bomb blast calculators. You can easily make a replica.