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Aurora lights up the sky in geomagnetic storm

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Bill Nye the Science Guy speaks to CNN on Friday, May 10. CNN

The massive solar storm could present “a real danger,” especially with the modern world relying so much on electricity, according to Bill Nye the Science Guy, a science educator and engineer.

Scientists are warning an increase in solar flares and coronal mass ejections from the sun have the potential to disrupt communication on Earth into the weekend. Solar flares can affect communications and GPS almost immediately because they disrupt Earth’s ionosphere, or part of the upper atmosphere. Energetic particles released by the sun can also disrupt electronics on spacecraft and affect astronauts without proper protection within 20 minutes to several hours.

In comparison to tonight’s event, Nye drew comparisons with another incident in 1859, known as the Carrington Event, when telegraph communications were severely affected.

“The other thing, everybody, that is a real danger to our technological society, different from 1859, is how much we depend on electricity and our electronics and so on,” Nye said. “None of us really in the developed world could go very long without electricity.”

He noted that there are systems in place to minimize the impact, but “stuff might go wrong,” stressing that not all transformers are equipped to withstand such a solar event.

“It depends on the strength of the event and it depends on how much of our infrastructures are prepared for this the sort of thing,” he said.

Bill Nye breaks down significance of the solar storm | CNN

This post has been updated with more details on solar flares’ impact on electronics.

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