Beware the Superflare
Getting ready for a devastating solar storm just might require some impossible-seeming physics.
September 2, 1859, was a terrible day to be working in the information industry. Telegraph machines around the world behaved as if possessed. They spat out electric shocks and set telegraph paper on fire. Some of the machines continued to send and receive messages even after they were disconnected from the batteries that powered them.
One man saw how it all began. The day before, Richard Carrington, a British brewer’s son who rose to be the foremost solar astronomer of the time, had obser...