Big Picture One – Directory Of Multimedia eLearning Posts

Multimedia essays & eLearning programs by: David Anthony Johanson  © All Rights 

To quickly view sites of interest, just click on the white text to the right of the feature photo & above the program’s description. You also have the option to navigate to each essay by simply scrolling down past the end of this directory.

Essays are listed in chronological order from when they were first published.

You’ll find in each program essay, a spectrum of resources to help better understand & appreciate the subject matter. To enhance your experience, a variety of carefully considered dynamic content is used, including: photographs, videos, graphics, text & hyperlinks to other sites. Every effort is made to assure the information presented is factually correct by cross referencing content & giving proper credit for creative work used in the stories & essays.

You’re invited & encouraged to comment on the programs presented here, by doing so, you enrich the site by making it a more interactive experience. All constructive comments are welcome, even if you’re not in total agreement with the article’s point of view.

The author of these sites is a multimedia photographer, CTE instructor and a former Boeing scientific photographer.

For an alternative graphic format of these programs, please visit — www.ScienceTechTablet.wordpress.com 

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https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/new-brain-based-learning-strategies-explored-using-neuroimaging/  New Brain-Based Learning Strategies Explored To Help Achieve Your Full Potential. Finding and sharing new learning strategies, that are inspired from evidence based, neuroimaging and brain-mapping studies, is a dynamic process to help assist individuals in reaching their full learning potential. Brain-based learning is a spectrum of teaching strategies, which uses neuroscience research on how the brain functions in achieving ideal development and potential. Learning concepts used: Applied Learning, Adult Learning, Competency-based Learning, Critical Thinking, Integrative Learning. Key: Words or phrases italicized are used to focus on essential concepts or terms for enhanced learning and retention.

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https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/tag/gone-in-30-seconds-elearning-program-on-rocket-launch-disaster/  Gone In 30 seconds… It’s estimated that an average of 8 percent of all commercial rocket launches end in failure. This eLearning program includes a compendium of 20th & 21st century rocket launches, including dramatic failures. A succinct introduction to space law is included for greater appreciation of the consequences and liabilities related to the growing number of commercial rocket launches. A detailed world map illustrates the major spaceports & launch centers using GPS coordinates and web address. 

An eLearning program for secondary/post secondary education and community learning content covered: — aerospace/astronautic engineering, avionics, economics & business, environmental footprint, financing, manufacturing, marketing, obsolescence management, technology& Space Law. Learning concepts used: Applied Learning, Adult Learning, Competency-based Learning, Critical Thinking, Integrative Learning. Key: Words or phrases italicized are used to focus on essential concepts or terms for enhanced learning and retention.

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https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/tag/david-a-johanson-historian/  Will The Next Jet Airliner You Fly Be Obsolete, And Ready for Early Retirement?  This multimedia essay examines the evolving financing strategies and technological developments affecting older generation commercial aircraft. An eLearning program for secondary/post secondary education and community learning. Assessment tool: A quiz and answer key is located at the end of the program. Learning content covered: aerospace/airliner— aerospace engineering, avionics, economics & business, environmental footprint, financing, manufacturing, marketing, obsolescence management, technology. Learning concepts used: Applied Learning, Adult Learning, Competency-based Learning, Critical Thinking, Integrative Learning. Key: Words or phrases italicized are used to focus on essential concepts or terms for enhanced learning and retention.

[ Disclaimer: David Johanson is a former Boeing scientific photographer and currently has no stock holdings or a financial interest in: Boeing, Airbus or any other companies referenced in this program. Research in this article has been cross referenced using at least three sources, however, all perspectives and opinions represent only the viewpoints of the author.]

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https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/the-environment-our-earths-lost-frontier/ The Environment, Our Earth’s Lost Frontier. A photo essay dedicated to the environment using photos from editorial and industrial photo assignments. From Alaska’s oil rich Arctic region to the tropical rain forest of Hawaii, environmental encounters and stories are visually shared. eLearning – suitable for secondary/postsecondary education, community & extended learning. Photo-illustration, graphics, text and links on Earthday and the environment included within this program. 

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https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/the-martian-prophecies-earths-conquest-of-the-red-planet/  The Martian Prophecies. In this futurist multimedia photo essay, a correspondent from 2054 presents a series of Astronautical engineering and Astrobiology developments enabling the remarkable colonization of Mars. ELearning – suitable for secondary/postsecondary education, community & extended learning. Extensive photo-illustration, graphics, text and links on Mars colonization included within this program.

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https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/an-introductionary-guide-to-steampunk/ A Beginners Guide to Steampunk. — Photo essay introduction to Steampunk subculture. As a sub-genre of science fiction its practitioners feature Victorian era clothing along with accessories such as goggles, intricate antique jewelry & a wide spectrum of retro-futuristic attachments. Subjects include critical thinking, alternative lifestyle, 19TH Century Industrial History & Steampunk Etymology.

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https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/how-did-romes-vitruvius-become-the-worlds-first-impact-player-in-architecture/  Multimedia photo essay introduction to Roman architect & engineer Vitruvius, who writes the first book on architecture. Vitruvius’ influence is relevant for modern architecture, STEM, Pre-Engineer & CTE related content. For Secondary & post secondary learning. ELearning, Links relating subject matter, quizzes for learning. Extensive photography of Roman architecture featured from: Rome, Ostia Antica & Herculaneum.

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Pearl_Harb_VC_BPP_e8v474bigpictureone.wordpress.com/tag/photos-of-pearl-harbor-visitor-center/  Low light architectural photography of the new Pearl Harbor Visitor Center on Oahu, Hawaii. Multicultural essay of modern Hawaiian & Pan Pacific Cultures. — multimedia photo essay, eLearning, photo tutorial on marketing & night photography, reference links

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Sky_look_ BPP_ae208Is Space Law Really That Far Over Your Head? | bigpictureone   Space Law introduction, case studies, space port launch sites, space debris, asteroid mining includes history of the modern rocket program. — Multimedia essay, eLearning, STEM & CTE content, quizzes, interactive map, video links, reference links
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Reflecting on the 33rd Anniversary of Mount Saint Helens Eruption | bigpictureone    Reflections on a close encounter with one of the worlds most active stravovolcanos.  Mt. Saint Helens eruption – photo essay, eLearning, reference links

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What Chance Will America’s Youth Have In A Changing   STEM_EXPFair_ESD_BPP_E23Global Economy? | bigpictureone STEM Education & Magnet Schools – Origins of the program & its success in public education. STEM expo at Mountlake Terrace HS -Edmonds School District.–  Multimedia essay, eLearning, STEM & CTE content, reference links

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Photo-illustration: David Johanson Vasquez © All RightsReflections From A Future Hawaii. Can A Tropical Paradise Become A Portal To Deep Space? | bigpictureone   Futuristic Hawaii in the year 2054 as it’s transformed into a space port & gateway to space. — Multimedia essay, eLearning, links

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Waikiki_Santa_BPP_E22An unusual encounter with a Waikiki Santa Clause | bigpictureone      Photo essay of a Waikiki Santa Clause using an adaptation of Clement Clare Moore’s (1799 -1863) classic poem — Twas the night before Christmas. Multimedia photo essay.  Mele Kalikimaka! — multimedia, poetry, eLearning

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Silhoute_man_ocean_BPP_E227https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/will-the-last-people-remaining-in-america-turn-the-lights-back-on/  Multimedia essay on solar flares, solar/geomagnetic storms & solar maximum of 2013-2014. Potential solar storm scenarios, which government scientist & federal agencies are warning about, including loss of world power grids. Resources & links to various publications & sites  included. — multimedia, eLearning on solar storm history & threats to current infrastructure, STEM related content, quizzes, reference links

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EPSON scanner imageA Glimpse Into Havana’s Legendary Watering Hole | bigpictureone Family photo taken in 1941 at Havana’s Sloppy Joe’s, inspired this photo essay of events shortly before & after the start of WWII. Family chronicled as they arrive in Panama for reunion with my grandfather, evacuated & survive being stalked by German wolf-pack U-boat submarine. — multimedia essay – eLearning

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R22_Helicopt_DAJ_44The Latest Full Throttle Multimedia Video of Seattle From the R22 Beta Helicopter – Part 2 of 2 | bigpictureone  Helicopter safety & repair video, aerial photography of Seattle & Boeing field, using an R22. — STEM & CTE learning, multimeida, eLearning, quizzes video essay.

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R22_helicopt_DAJ_42A Full Throttle Multimedia Video of Seattle      From the R22 Beta II Helicopter – Part 1 of 2. | bigpictureone  Helicopter safety & repair video, aerial photography for Port of Seattle, from Boeing Field, using an R22, eLearning video essay. STEM & CTE learning, aerospace engineering. — mutlimedia, eLearning, quizzes, resource links

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Man_micro_chip_BPP_et169https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/who-were-the-titans-of-telecommunication-and-information-technology/ Introduction to R&D research labs through a multimedia history of Bell Laboratory, its developments inventions. Second chapter explores Xerox PARC founding in Silicon Valley &  contributions it made to personal computing & telecommunications. — eLearning, quizzes, reference links

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Star_Showr_Ref_Lk_BPP_e616https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/blinded-by-the-light-in-the-middle-of-night/  Photo essay on light pollution’s effects on night photography, astronomy, animal migrations & quality of life. Mount Rainier National Park & long exposure photographs of landscape & star constellations are featured in this essay. — multimedia, eLearning, STEM related content,  quizzes, resource links

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Aurora_Bor_BPP_il_0011_1https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/theres-nothing-new-under-the-sun-or-is-there/  Multimedia essay introduction to solar storms (including historical perspective), CME’s, effects of geomagnetic disturbances & potential threats to global electrical power grids. The connection between solar storm activity & aurora Borealis — eLearning, STEM related content, quizzes, resource links

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Orvi_Italy_BPP_E0412https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/exploring-etruscan-ruins-beneath-the-cliffs-of-medieval-orvieto-italy/ Multimedia essay on one of Europe’s best kept secrets — the medieval fortress citadel, Orvieto. Explores Etruscan ruins, grottos, medieval architecture, massive cathedrals & nearby Umbria countryside. Examines Etruscan art & its misunderstood cultural traditions under the shadow of the Roman Empire. — Critical thinking, World history & culture, travel, e-Learning, extensive photo gallery, quizzes, resource links

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Paint_Hills, BPP__42https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/1382/ Multimedia essay includes video interview with a National Park Service’s ranger on the unique geology & wildlife qualities of John Day National Monument’s Painted Hills. Video features exclusive walking tour, which occurs only once per year. — night photography, resource links

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Boe_ing_787_First_Flt_BPP_Bg404Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner Historic First Flight From Paine Field, Everett, WA. | bigpictureone Historic first flight video of Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Everett facilities by BigPictureOne. Multimedia of Boeing Scientific photography experience related to aircraft structures & test engineering. — ELearning, STEM & CTE Ed, large photo gallery, quizzes, resource links

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SeaSPNed_BP_90_MRhttps://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/the-world-event-which-launched-seattle-into-a-post-modern-orbit-50-years-ago-today/  Multimedia essay explores an early postmodern World’s fair — known as Seattle’s Century 21 Worlds Fair, opened in 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  e-Learning, STEM related content, quizzes, extensive photos

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twinT_WTC_NYC BPP_arl_44https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/the-day-after-911-ten-years-after/ Multimedia narrative of a 1998 visit to the NYC World Trade Center Towers & the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Seattle architect Minoru Yamasaki’s designs of the NYC Trade Centers are compared with his Seattle Science Center design for the Century 21 Worlds Fair —eLearning, critical thinking, extensive photo gallery, quizzes, resource links

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Snoqu_almie_Falls_BPP_Ae_6174Luminous Beauty of Low-light Photography | bigpictureone Photo essay tutorial on low-light photography. Strategies & techniques of using low noise sensors in digital cameras. Terms such as magic hour & HDR photography are explained. — eLearning, CTE related content, photo gallery

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Kingdome Demo_BPP_ 2KIngdome demolition March 26 2000 | bigpictureone Video multimedia essay of one of the World’s largest demolitions of Seattle Kingdome. E-learning, video tutorial (featured slow-motion & high-speed video effects), essay of event & aftermath from dust storm. Reference links included.

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Tech_abst_BPP__3ea1Will The Current Solar Storms Hitting Earth, Lead To Lights-out for us by 2013-2014? | bigpictureone A multimedia essay introduction to solar storms, history of geomagnetic effects on industrial & postmodern societies. Civil preparedness, Photos & videos of Aurora Borealis. STEM & solar physics undergraduate content, extensive photos, resource links

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Reflecting on the 36th Anniversary of Mount Saint Helens Eruption

Observing the 33rd anniversary of Mount Saint Helens

Observing the 33rd anniversary of the Mount Saint Helens eruption, which had occurred on Sunday 18th of May 1980 at 8:32 a.m. on a clear sunny morning.

 

Photo essay by: David A Johanson © All Rights

Flying off from Seattle to see family in San Francisco, I peered out my window to catch a sunrise falling on the north face of Mt. Saint Helens. In the photograph, a fresh plume of ash is seen spewing near the center of the crater after some renewed volcanic activity. Spirit Lake, partially frozen in the foreground sits at the base of an active volcano. I’m humbled every time I see this famous stratovolcano, because of a close encounter I nearly had with it on the weekend it violently erupted.

After graduating from college, I received a job offer from KING Broadcasting’s KREM TV, in Spokane. While working at the station, Mount Saint Helens dramatically awoke, focusing the world’s media attention on her mysterious activity. The volcano’s rumblings increased sharply over a few weeks and was building momentum, just before I was planning a weekend visit to Seattle to stay with friends. Having access to the station’s motion picture cameras, I made preparations to use part of the weekend for filming Spirit Lake, which sat under the shadow of the volcano. A feisty character, named Harry R. Truman, operated a lodge on the lake and I imagined it would be a great human-interest story to interview him in regards to all the Mountain’s activity.

The art director at the TV station, Bob Takeshita, was a good friend, so we made plans to work on the project together. The weekend arrived for going to Seattle, and the weather had cleared, making it ideal for filming at Spirit Lake. To my disappointment, the art director informed me his wife didn’t want him to go that weekend. Since the plan was for us to work as a team, I let him know, I wasn’t going to hall all the camera gear up the mountain by myself—so we would have to postpone the shoot for another time.

Arriving back in Seattle, I was still disheartened by not going to film at Spirit Lake with such ideal weather. That night, I had this strange dream of being back in Spokane, where I was at my favorite lookout point, getting ready to take some photographic panoramas of the skyline. As I put the camera on the tripod, a clear spring sky turned suddenly dark. It was all vivid and so strange, but what made it even more surreal is… it began snowing gray powder flakes in the warm air as the ground disappeared underneath deposits of gray powder dust. Waking up in the morning I though how odd that dream was from the night before, but soon forgot about it as I had a busy day ahead of me.

As fate would have it, the following morning on May 18, 1980, Mt. Saint Helen’s, erupted with the force of several atomic bombs… burying my intended interviewee, Harry Truman and his lodge under hundreds of feet of volcanic debris. And the dream I had, was a premonition of ash from the eruption, which did make it to Spokane and deposited a blanket of ash, just as I had seen. Interestingly, no geologist or scientist had predicted if an eruption did occur, the result would be…a massive cloud of ash, blanketing hundreds of square miles in gray ash.  It was several days before I could get back to KREM TV, because the mountain passes were closed due to hazardous driving conditions caused from falling ash, which deposited ash on 11 states and parts of western Canada.

I never got a chance to thank my friend’s wife for not allowing him to go with me on that fateful weekend. If I get over to the Spokane area again, I’m going to look my friend up and bring his wife a belated bouquet of flowers for inadvertently saving our lives. ~

Video of Mount St. Helens Eruption

usda Forest Services Video

Interviews with Harry Truman at Spirit Lake

Computer animated video of Mount St. Helens Eruption

Click on the link bellow to view the largest volcanic eruption recorded in history

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ARBjmoHAII

Kradatoa – the largest volcanic eruption recorded in history,

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Will the Last People Remaining In America, Turn the Lights Back On?

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Multimedia essay & images by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights Reserved

Series 1 of 2

For background on solar storms please view the previous essays:  Will the current solar storms hitting Earth, lead to lights-out for us all by 2013? | bigpictureone    There’s Nothing New Under the Sun, or is There? | bigpictureone    As a likely threat to ending our modern civilization —a severe solar storm is unmatched as a natural disaster and yet it is vastly underreported. An alternative graphic format of this site is at: http://sciencetechtablet.wordpress.com/

Now that we’ve moved beyond December 21, 2012 and you know, the Mayan prophecy wasn’t about the end of the world — there’s some truly sobering news about what really does threaten our civilization. A powerful, natural solar event, which affects everyone living today, is now reaching the peak of a violent cycle. Documented by history and science, this potential event could cripple our civilization by destroying the essential technology we rely on and throwing us all back into the “dark ages.” The key to avoiding this global catastrophe is within our grasp — if  we and our National leaders are prepared to be aware of the problem and act by using the correct resources for defending our National power grid.

A Shocking Glimpse of Things To Come                                                               Aurora_Bor_BPP_il_0011

To understand what we’re up against, you only have to go back a short distance of time, to March 13, 1989. A chain-reaction near the surface of the sun was triggered by a solar flare on March 9. Thousands of miles of magnetic arcs collided, causing violent high-energy explosions, which were instantly hurled into space. A plasma cloud from the event was observed heading directly towards earth at a million-miles per hour. As the sun’s radiation particle penetrated the Earth’s atmosphere, short-wave radio signals became disrupted, indicating our planet’s protective magnetic field was being overwhelmed.  And the brilliant, surreal light-shows from the“northern lights” heralded the solar storm to astonished viewers in Florida and even Cuba.

A cascading wave of technical glitches, involving electronic components suddenly occurred globally and beyond! The monitoring systems on the U.S. Space Shuttle were sending corrupt signals to mission controllers, while a host of satellites began malfunction and a Japanese satellite was damaged beyond repair.

At 2:44 a.m., after only 90 seconds of detection, the massive Hydro-Quebec power company was knocked offline by surging geomagnetic energy caused from the aggressive solar storm. Moments later, hundreds of utilities within the Eastern U.S. were all suddenly blacking out. As a result of the blackout six-million people were now without power on a winter’s day. Within 40 minutes of the geomagnetic current’s detection — the force continued to build  like a Tsunami as it surged through the entire continental U.S. power grid, nearly collapsing all the Nation’s electric utilities in its path. The event’s speed and power led some to believe we were under attack from a Soviet nuclear electromagnetic pulse “EMP.”

Particle energy shock    wave from solar storm is mostly deflected by Earth's magnetic field.

Particle energy shock wave from solar storm is mostly deflected by Earth’s magnetic field. Photo illustration: David Johanson Vasquez ©

Titanic burst of charged particles created from a solar flare. Photo-illustration: David Johanson Vasquez ©

Titanic burst of charged particles created from a solar flare. Photo-illustration: David Johanson Vasquez ©

The Achilles Heel of Our Technology          Silhoute_Bldg_BBP_et204

Teams of scientist, engineers and physicists began piecing the events together and realized it was first large-scale, solar geomagnetic storm to hit during the postmodern digital electronic era. As powerful as the solar storm was in creating a rogue like wave of geomagnetic induced current (GIC), which saturated the entire planet — it was only one-tenth the strength of the earlier 1921 “super solar storm.” Our electric infrastructure back in the 1920s was in its infancy and we didn’t have voltage sensitive microelectronics, which we now depend on to facilitate all our electronic devices. Today’s complex and overstretched power grids, with their high-power transmission lines are susceptible to geomagnetic energy created from solar storms.

The 1921 solar storm was what scientist classify as a one-in-hundred year storm. Many scientist from NOAA, NASA and the National Academy of Scientist “NAS” predicts a 10 to 12 percent probability of this super solar storm happening within the next 15 years and 100 percent likely some time beyond that time period.

The 2013 solar cycle is now entering its 11-year, peak phase known as solar maximum, this critical phase is of a grave concern as the sun begins to reverse polarity and creates the potential for a super solar storms. History reveals over the decades of time a consistent pattern in the approximate 11 year solar cycle… put the pattern together and it may reveal how little time we have to prepare. This is the pattern from three of the largest storms in recent history:  1989 Quebec-Power geomagnetic storm, the 1921 super solar storm event arrived and the greatest of them all — the 1859 Carrington Solar Storm event all taking place within the 11-year solar maxim.

Photo courtesy of NASA

Photo courtesy of NASA

Satellites, The Holly Grail of Telecommunications.

Solar storms and geomagnetic energy presents a spectrum of threats to satellite operations. Scientist, physicists and aerospace engineers have realized the challenges solar storms present to satellites since they were first launched into orbit. The geomagnetic energy caused from mass solar energy interacting with the Earths magnetic field, can cause satellites to lose their orientation and if not corrected… can end their lives or even send them hurling back to Earth. Geomagnetic energy is similar to the static electrify you create when walking on a carpet and then is discharge by touching a grounded object. In satellites there’s no way to discharge the electricity, so it will continue to buildup energy and can fry the tightly packed circuits or damage one of the orientation gyros within it. Another problem created from a GIC is the magnetic energy it contains, which can erase the memory in your computer or any memory storage device. The list of essential industries and services relying on archived records that are threatened by CIGs, goes well beyond the banking and financial institutions.

Telestar 1 Developed by Bell Labs and an consortium of international enterprises

Telestar 1 Developed by Bell Labs and an consortium of international enterprises

Even though this subject is well know in the satellite industry, it’s not a topic journalists will have much luck in finding someone to go on the record for in interviews. Satellite companies don’t like admitting reasons for technical problems experienced with their products. The military is even less forthcoming with satellite information. It’s understandable why the armed forces maintain a proprietary stance on its satellites, but commercial satellite companies could benefit themselves and the entire industry by sharing their experiences with solar storm related activity.

If you have cable television, you’ve probably noticed at some time, the satellite transmitting your program being disrupted by solar storm radiation. An indicator for solar interference is digital tiling, which momentarily appears like a frozen video frame, before breaking up into smaller digital tiles. The last few times I’ve noticed digital tiling on my television, I verified it was from solar interference by going to NOAA’s space weather site, which in fact, confirmed elevated solar storm activity was happening.

Was It My Question On Satellite Solar Vulnerability,  Which Brought An Abrupt End To An Interview With U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell?

Senator Cantwell  sharing her views on technology and education. Photo by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights Reserved.

Senator Maria Cantwell sharing her views on technology and education. Photo by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights Reserved.

This past July, I arranged a phone interview with Washington State, Senator Maria Cantwell.  Senator Cantwell serves on the U.S. Senate committee for Commerce, Science and Transportation, satellites are a topic this committee holds hearings on. Cantwell also is the committee Chairman on Energy, for the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources committee, which deals directly with the Nation’s electric grid.

The interview began with Senator Cantwell and her advisor as they were traveling to an event. After I gave a brief intro to the interview topics, Cantwell was asked to share what updates the Senate had in regards to hardening our satellite systems against solar storms — particularly relating to the aging GPS satellites, which are now being replaced. There was silence for a moment,  it sounded like the Senator and her advisor had covered the phone for a discussion. Senator Cantwell said she would like to get back to me on that subject — I sensed in that moment, the satellite topic should have been brought towards the end of the interview, so I quickly changed gears and followed-up with — why the Senate was taking so long in approving a Bill, which would help protect the National electric grid? Again, I didn’t get a direct answer and the Senator asked if we could finish the interview at another time.

Our latest technology in the  transmission of electric power uses GPS satellites to help regulate the flow of high voltage electricity through power lines. Also used in the control and monitoring of the electric power is shortwave radio and phone lines all of which can be seriously interrupted by severe GIC caused from a solar storm.

A full spectrum of communication modes can disrupted by a GIC.

A full spectrum of communication modes can disrupted by a GIC.

As it turned out, the Senate later that month approved 84-11 to move forward with advancing the proposal for Cybersecurity Act of 2012, which includes protecting the electric grid. As an example of taking one step forward and then taking two steps back — the Senate voted down in August and again in November the Cybersecurity Act. Part of the reason for the Bill not being approved appears because of a legislative tactic which attached unrelated or conflicting objectives to the Bill, so that opposing the side feels they can get more out of the negotiations.  It’s seems startling in this era of politics, when the Congress or Senate is able to come together quickly and pass any new law without using this protracted tactic.

In the event of a super solar storm, individual homes, neighborhoods and communities could be isolated with no electricity for months or  years.

In the event of a super solar storm, individual homes, neighborhoods and communities could be isolated with no electricity for months or years.

It has to be noted, this was a phone interview, it wasn’t face to face, it’s possible a more pressing matter came in while the interview was in progress. Also, the Senator was in the final months of her Senate election campaign and probably was advised not to comment on anything which could be perceived as politically damaging.

The interview illustrates how challenging it is to help inform the public, along with government officials on what we all are facing from an impending 100-year solar storm event. I have contacts within the electric power industry, including the Bonneville Power Administration, which have been helpful in providing their own perspective on geomagnetic storms, but they’ve all asked to speak off the record. Unfortunately there’s too much pressure to play down the GIC issue from inside the power industry. It’s not pleasant realizing how poorly prepared we are for a potential natural disaster on this scale — that’s why I believe, “mainstream corporate media” has neglected to inform us on the consequences solar storms can have on society. There is industry and government precautions which could be used to help protect the power grid — but it requires courageous political leadership to  enact these safeguards, unfortunately our current politicians are too preoccupied with partisan gridlock to enact the necessary safeguards.

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An Overstretched, Electric Power Grid Creates the Mother of All Antennas!

Government regulators, private and most public power companies have missed critical opportunities to invest in, strengthen and protect our electric power infrastructure from solar geomagnetic storms. Since the wake-up call of the 1989 Hydro-Quebec solar storm, our nation’s electrical grid has been overburdened with higher demand and added thousands of miles of high-voltage power lines. The vast network of power transmission lines stretching over the continent creates the mother of all antennas, for channeling geomagnetic energy into the electric grid.  The lack of investment in transformer security and overuse of the grid, makes it much more vulnerable than it ever was in 1989. An impending solar storm could produce the “perfect geomagnetic super storm,” which in a matter of minutes… decimates most of the nation’s ability to transmit power for several months or even years.

Recently there were comments in an open online physicist forum, regarding threats from geomagnetic storms to the National grid. One thread mentioned a possible way to stop a serious GIC event from destroying high-voltage transformers, is to physically cut the power lines to the transformers. Another physicist replied that the plan just might work, however, he wasn’t sure anyone would be willing an attempt to physically interrupt the electricity collecting behind a continent of power lines.

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Underground pipelines and rail lines are also perfect conductors for channeling GIC’s electric current and have their own issues relating to damage from electromagnetic energy.

Envirn Indust_BPP e1007

In the 1989 Hydro-Quebec geomagnetic storm, there were only 90 seconds to make a decision on what action to take. Today, it is assumed, power utilities are more prepared with an action plan, however deciding to shut down any section of the grid is an extreme responsibility for an individual. To give an example, last November I was Honolulu, Hawaii, meeting with a friend who works for the Core of Army Engineers. She mentioned, earlier in the year on the Island of Oahu, a serious problem occurred with the transmission of electricity. A plant operator realized something was critically wrong and made the decision to disconnect the power, which caused large sections of the Island to lose power. The initial response from the public and local media was anger and criticism towards the operator, for shutting down the power without notification to thousands of people. It turned out the utility operator actually saved the system from being severely damaged by deciding to act quickly. If the power was allowed to remain on, it could have caused severe system damage and extremely expensive to repair. So in reality this operator’s quick decision and courageous action saved the day for thousands of customers.

Image courtesy of NASA.
Image courtesy of NASA

Deregulation of the Power Industry, Combined With No Centralized Authority over the National Grid In An Emergency  — Potentially Jeopardizes the Economy and Our Safety.  

Deregulation of the power industry has been an adopted policy since the 1980s. It was supposed to encourage industry competition, for creating greater profits for the utilities, allow for steady improvements in infrastructure and lower cost for consumers. In reality deregulation has failed to deliver on its stated objectives.

Independent and comprehensive cost/benefit studies were not completed before deregulation was adopted. Joseph Swidler, former chair of the Federal Power Commission, stated in 1990 editorial of The Electricity Journal — While there is bitter disagreement over … changes, there can be little argument these are occurring haphazardly without the benefit of comprehensive analyses at a national level.” A specific example is the absence of an analysis of the decrease in benefits from coordination as mentioned above, since competition typically results in decreased coordination. [A. CasazzaAllan J. Schultz and Joseph C. Swidler A brave new world: Let’s look before we leap The Electricity Journal, 1990, vol. 3, issue 9, pages 40-43]  SubSt_BPP0709_bt73

Engineering originally defined the qualifications and standards used for policy and management in the power industry.  After deregulation took hold, the industry became beholden to marketing and finance, which de-emphasized engineering standards.

While the original standards used in the power industry were not perfect, it was more reliable and efficient than the current system — which has overstretched the National grid with higher capacity transmission lines and not sufficiently updated key infrastructure needs. Deregulation is what allowed for large-scale fraud and market manipulations to take place. This created unethical opportunities to gouge private consumers and large corporate customers by the former Enron Company in the early part of the 21st Century.

According to industrial insurance underwriters publications, deregulation has forced the majority of power utilities to survive on a slim profit margin, which does not provide adequate reinvestment for infrastructure or necessary research and development. A critical component  of major concern is high voltage transformers.

Environmental stock photography for a New Dawn.

The Issue of High Voltage Transformers

According to industrial insurer’s publications, deregulation has forced the majority of power utilities to survive on a slim profit margin, which does not provide adequate reinvestment for infrastructure or necessary research and development. Many of the high voltage transformers functions at the edge of their life expectancy. It typically takes three years to order, install and have a transformer ready for service. High voltage transformers are no longer manufactured in the U.S.. On average they weigh 100 to 200 tons and are too large for aircraft to transport.

A severe geomagnetic storm creates geomagnetic induced current (GIC), which transfers massive electric energy through the path of least resistance. This energy travels through water, earth and especially through metal such as underground pipes, rail line and electric power lines. The GIC saturates transformers, which distorts the voltage in the system and violently disrupts the entire process of transferring electric power.

Electrical power infrastructure (electrical grid) is vulnerable to major Solar storm's Coronal Mass Mass Ejections (CMEs), Geomagneticly Induced Currents (GMIs) and man made Electronic Magnetic Pulse (EMP's.)  Photo: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights-

Electrical power infrastructure (electrical grid) is vulnerable to major Solar storm’s Coronal Mass Mass Ejections (CMEs), Geomagneticly Induced Currents (GMIs) and man made Electronic Magnetic Pulse (EMP’s.) Photo: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights-

As a critical component in the distribution of electric power, transformers have proven vulnerable to geomagnetic energy and their survivability is a major concern to engineers and scientist.  It’s likely a majority of the high voltage transformers would be at risk from  the geomagnetic energy caused from a super solar storm. The transformers and the Nation’s electrical grid are more vulnerable on the East coast due to how overstretched the system is there. In the Western part of the U.S. the power utilities have been more proactive in protecting transformers and the grid is not as dense as it is in the East. The further south in longitude a power grid’s location is a factor in lessening the effects of a geomagnetic storm. Also a location’s geology is a factor, some rock compositions conduct geomagnetic energy more efficiently than others.

According to leading engineering experts in the power industry, a practical strategy to protect the high voltage transformers is to install a surge protector like component on each transformer. The devices are about the size of a washer machine and would cost from $ 500 million to $ 1 billion dollars to protect all of the Nation’s transformers. That’s probably the best value  of an insurance policy which would cover the Nation’s electrical grid, especially compared to the alternative of replacing  several hundred industrial size transformers.

Power

Transformers a risk to keeping the power on – 360 News – Lloyd’s

A Comprehensive Study, With Extensive Geomagnetic Storm Computer Modeling.

In 2010, The Oak Ridge National Laboratory produced an extensive report titled: Geomagnetic Storms and Their Impact on the U.S. Power Grid. The Metatech Corporation was contracted to produce extensive computer modeling on various solar and geomagnetic storm scenarios. The report has been presented to both the U.S. Senate and  House Congressional subcommittee hearings. Here’s a link for you to see for yourself how severe and extensive solar storm impact is likely to be using computer modeling.

http://www.ornl.gov/sci/ees/etsd/pes/pubs/ferc_Meta-R-319.pdf

The Prospect of 400 Chernobyl’s   400_chevnob_103

Russia’s Chernobyl and the United States’ Three Mile Island, are considered two of the greatest nuclear power plant disasters in history. Their legacy was clouds of lethal radiation, which caused mass evacuations and contaminated areas  still not safe for people to inhabit. When these nuclear accidents occurred, there were no earthquakes, hurricanes or tornadoes to blame. The cause was a combination of technological failure and human error, which prevented the reactor’s cooling system to function, ultimately causing the nuclear disasters.

On March 11, 2011 the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan experienced a 9.0  violent earthquake, followed by a massive tsunami. This time it was a natural disaster which caused a failure of the reactor’s cooling system. The backup electric generators to the reactor’s cooling system also unexpectedly failed, causing the reactors to begin overheating. The reactor released a  substantial radioactive cloud, which forced a 20 mile radius evacuation.

There are federal disaster relief agencies, scientists and engineers questioning if a super  geomagnetic storm would burn out the backup generators for cooling a nuclear power plant’s reactor. Another question is, will the trucks used for hauling diesel to backup generators, even work after waves of geomagnetic energy travel through a vehicles microelectronics. Any type of car transportation or truck transport  will be extremely limited, if electricity is not generated to pumping gasoline and diesel from service stations.

In Hurricane Sandy and Katrina, a number of hospital’s critical backup generators failed to operate. It’s uncertain if backup generators will survive a severe geomagnetic disturbance from a solar storm. With over 400 nuclear power plants throughout the world, a serious geomagnetic storm, could potentially lead to loss of all electrical power to reactor core cooling systems, which would release radiation contamination on a global scale.

The Tragic Events of the RMS Titanic Serves As A Cautionary Analogy

Arctic_Ice_Field_BPP_6E54

This past April marked the 100 year anniversary of the “unsinkable” Titanic ocean liner’s maiden voyage. The once modern looking, massive ship was state of the art technology in 1912 — today it represents human arrogance and hubris towards over reliance on technology. The  captain of the Titanic,  Edward J. Smith, was quoted, of ‘not conceiving any disaster which could happen to his vessel’ — after all, no major passenger ship had been lost for nearly 50 years before the launch of the Titanic

882 feet (269. meters) long -maximum breath 92 feet (28. meters) 46, 328 gross registered tons.
882 feet (269. meters) long -maximum breath 92 feet (28. meters) 46, 328 gross registered tons.

White Star Line of Liverpool, England was the premier shipping company at the beginning of the 20th Century. White Star commissioned the construction of RMS Titanic – an Olympic class steam liner.  The passenger ship was outfitted with twin colossal, coal-fired reciprocating turbine steam engines, and the ship’s electric generator produces more power than an average city’s power-plants at that time. It also featured the latest wireless communication technology, capable of sending and receiving signals 1,000 miles away. Owned and operated by the Marconi Company, the radio room was operated 24/7 using two technicians. The radio’s functions were primarily for commercial passenger telegram services, but it also served an operations function for the Titanic as it received useful weather reports and ice warnings.

A functional forced air heating system used electric fans to push warm air through a ventilation network. The Titanic could in an emergency, produce its own fresh water from seawater using a desalination process. Many new living improvements and conveniences on this marvelous, “floating city” employed advance technology created during the late industrial era.

RMS Titanic in its final stages of construction is being outfitted before sea-trials.
RMS Titanic in its final stages of construction is being outfitted before sea-trials.

220px-Titanic_cutaway_diagram

Full Speed Ahead Into the Night and Unseen Ice Fields

On April 14, 1912, three days into its maiden voyage the Titanic with its 1,317 passengers and 885 crew members moved swiftly across the North Atlantic. The ship averaged an efficient, 21 knots per hour (24 mph; 39 km/h) through the icy cold waters and approximately 900 miles from its New York destination. As the streamliner approached the coast of Newfoundland, the skies were clearing over an unusually calm Atlantic Ocean. Throughout the day, Titanic’s radio operators received warnings from various ships in the route ahead of where they would soon enter — the captain responded by charting a 10 mile precautionary adjustment to the south for the ships heading. Throughout the day, warnings in Morse code reached Titanic’s radio operators in increase numbers and with more alarming urgency. The Captain assured the concerned operators — their ship had nothing to fear from icebergs and they should  attend to the passengers important communication needs. As the late afternoon melted into the twilight,  Titanic was cruising at full-steam ahead and virtually blind in the calm featureless night.

Comparison of Morse Code.

Comparison of Morse Code.

Two ship’s lookouts climbed the long later attached inside the steamships smoke stack to reach the crow’s nest for the last time. Unfortunately, the bridge binoculars were missing, so the men were forced to rely on their plain eyesight to see any impending danger. The Titanic cruised effortlessly through the flat calm ocean, creating a false sense of security to the crew and passengers — but with icebergs in the water, on a moonless night meant no splashing waves to help warn a watchful lookout. Just before midnight, Fred Fleet, the lookout  in the crow’s nest spotted the Titanic’ s dreadful rendezvous with destiny — a massive iceberg looming dead ahead. The bridge responded immediately by skillfully turning the ship away from the iceberg, the quick maneuver nearly was successful — but then… a horrible sound of solid ice scraping against sheets of steel plates and the profound shutter delivered to the ship — telegraphed it was mortally wounded. Five watertight compartments were breached just below the waterline by the jagged ice, if just one-less compartment would have torn open, this story wouldn’t be told. The largest ship in the world, this floating world with its community of families, workers and wealthy aristocrats, now had less than three hours before the unthinkable would happen.

The Captain and the Star Line management on board must have fallen into total shock and denial of what was happening to their Titanic, technological wonder. These individuals in charge with the responsibility for the ship’s operations and ultimately the passengers safety, were steeped in overconfidence they never conducted drills or consider necessary emergency contingencies and procedures. Fortified with hubris that the Titanic could withstand any act of nature, they lost sight of their most important duties of safe operations and procedures — after all they believed in the myth their ship was built to be unsinkable.

IND MTS Clouds BPP_E20

In the same way the Titanic’s symbolizes a mythic system of indestructible technology, which can withstand anything nature can throw at — our civilization and specifically our Nation is repeating some of the basic errors regarding — an over reliance, complacency, and trust in life supporting technologies.  We’ve been so fortunate to have built a civilization, which harnessed electrical technology to run our industry, heat our homes and provide our security.  For decades, with few exceptions, we’ve had uninterrupted, reliable electric power that is now, taken for granted. Most of us have become shortsighted, with blind-faith in assuming we’ll have reliable electric power, whenever or wherever we need it.

Recorded history has demonstrated solar storms are a real threat to our technologies and civilization. Solar cycles, flares and storm events are a regular occurrence — a super geomagnetic storm will happen again, creating potential for catastrophic effects beyond any scale humanity has ever faced. Reliable, national and international scientific institutions and governmental agencies in charge of safety and security, increasingly  warn us of these real threats to the electric grid.

Unlike RMS Titanic’s captain, whose hubris and over reliance on the technological engineering of his steam liner, lead to the tragic loss of his passengers and the world’s largest ship  — our elected officials and top power industry executives, need awareness of our technology’s fatal weakness and decisively act now to defend it! If our Nation, like the Titanic waits until the impending disaster is upon us to act… It will be too late — the  majority of our population, like those on the doomed infamous ship a 100-years ago will be scrambling for lifeboats that aren’t there. The millions of lives depending on electricity to transport food, medicine and provide security will have no safety-net for years to come. The threat from a natural continental or global catastrophic event is a known reality. It’s time for everyone to educate themselves and have an open dialogue with their families and communities regarding what precautions are necessary to minimize their effects. ~

Particle energy shock    wave from solar storm is mostly deflected by Earth's magnetic field.

Particle energy shock wave from solar storm is mostly deflected by Earth’s magnetic field.

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Government Agencies Which Are A Warning Of Solar Storm Potential Dangers

Severe S

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olar Storms Could Disrupt Earth This Decade: NOAA

Scientists warn solar storms could be “global Hurricane Katrina” | Homeland Security News Wire

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Testimony Given to  the U.S. Congress Regarding Threats to the National Grid from Solar Storms

http://www.solarstorms.org/CongressSW.html

SHIELDAct.com / Read H.R. 668 – The SHIELD Act

Testimony Given to the  U.S. Senate Regarding Threats to the National Grid From Solar Storms

http://www.ferc.gov/eventcalendar/Files/20110505082259-Testimony%20McClelland%20(5-3-11%20Final).pdf

http://www.ferc.gov/eventcalendar/Files/20120717100957-7-17-12-FERC-Testimony.pdf

Who Is In the Lead For the Darwin Award Between the U.S. Senate or Congress

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Here Are Some Links For Your Review To Inform Your Own Decision On Who Deserves the Darwin Award.

Feds and Utilities battle over Solar EMP threat in 2014 | SpaceBattles.com

Senators debate security of electricity grid – Washington Times

Senate dumps strategy to prevent EMP damage | The Total Collapse

Murkowski Blocks Effort to Protect US Power Grid

What Can We As Citizen Do To Protect the National Grid

Please check back to view the complete story — new content is being added daily, including an interview with Washington State Senator Maria Cantwell and comments from government agencies and electric power grid representatives.

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Solar Storm  & Electrical Power Portal  [Editorial Links Government Links Industry links & Resources]

Solar Storms & Solar Weather

Space: NOAA Watch: NOAA’s All-Hazard Monitor: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: U.S. Department of Commerce

NOAA / NWS Space Weather Prediction Center

Solar Storm Warning – NASA Science

SpaceWeather.com — News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids

Active Solar Regions – HAMwaves.com

Solar Satellites Research

Solar Shield–Protecting the North American Power Grid – NASA Science

Electric Power Industry Related to Solar Storm Issues

Lawrence E. Joseph: The Solar ‘Katrina’ Storm That Could Take Our Power Grid Out For Years

Emergency Preparedness & Societal Concerns Related to Solar Storms & EMPs

Are We Smart Enough to Survive … Or Will Humanity Win a Darwin Award? – Washington’s Blog

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Blinded By Light, In The Middle Of Night

 
Multimedia eLearning program by: David A. Johanson © All Rights  — Second Edition

The author is a multimedia specialist, CTE instructor and a former Boeing scientific photographer. For an alternative formatted view of this program, please visit — www.ScienceTechTablet.wordpress.com

 

My photo wingman, Rick Wong and I headed into the heart of darkness in a quest for the Perseid meteor showers. Mount Rainier National Park, was our destination to use its iconic landmark for framing an infinite field of stars—far from the glare of city lights. Traveling at night in Rick’s new hybrid Ford Fusion, equipped with “information technology”—voice navigation, made it easy finding the park without using a map.

Arriving at our location, luminous stars lit up the night as expected, but we were surprised by some uninvited competition, which nearly stole the show.

A stunning view of Mount Rainier reflected in Reflection Lake, with the summer stars overhead. The pink and orange glow on the left side of the mountain is light pollution emitted from the City of Tacoma, approximately 65 miles northwest.

We found an ideal location above Reflection Lake to begin our photo shoot, with one of the Cascade Mountain’s most famous stratovolcano in the background. An unexpected warm light was glowing behind Mount Rainier, which I reasoned, was a faint remnant from the earlier sunset. However, the sun had set at least four hours earlier, so it couldn’t be the source of the illumination. Rick suggested “its light coming from the City of Tacoma,” located about 65 miles away. During a 20-second long exposures used to take an image of the snow-capped mountain, I began thinking about the effects caused by light pollution.
With a bright moon rising, we worked fast to keep up with the changing light, until its intensity eventually overpowered the stars.

Just now, the moon was rising higher into the night sky, it too was causing us to shift focus on what to photograph. Like a giant diffuse reflector, the moon reflected soft, filtered light onto a previously dark, formless landscape. Moonlight was beginning to compete with the canopy of stars’ brilliance, partially masking crystal clear views of the Milky Way, along with some meteor sightings. So being photo opportunist, we used the moonlight to illuminate shadow-detail on Rainier’s south face.

Like some sorcerer conjuring an intense cauldron of red light, the photographer adjusts his digital settings before Mount Rainier and her crown of stars above.

A Peaceful Paradise Lost                                                                                             There’s a tranquil feeling while in the process of taking long exposures at night; it’s normally quiet and not many visual distractions overwhelm the senses or interrupt your focus. I personally enjoy these rare opportunities of solitude, to visualize an image, using a minimal, Zen like perspective.

 

When a distraction, like a car suddenly rounding a corner occurs, it’s often an annoyance, which takes you out of the moment. My moment was taken by clusters of cars, with glaring lights as they came around a turn… just as the moon illuminated the mountain, as it was reflected onto a perfectly still lake.. Their headlights flooded the calm mirror-like water and stands of old growth trees beyond with glaring intensity— as I used my hands in an attempt to shield the lens from light flare. Finally, the cars diapered into the darkness with no more approaching vehicles until dawn.

Photo-illustration of micro light sources, which can cause light pollution by unintended spill-light.

Moving above the lake to find new angles for interesting compositions, I took notice of something not seen before. Lights of various colors were coming from photographers bellow me, created by their digital camera’s preview monitors and infrared sensors for auto focusing. With the low light-sensitive Nikon cameras I was using, these multicolored monitor lights, appeared like a bright flare on the long exposure images. Now, I had one more unwelcome light source to avoid, which required strategic timing in the photo’s exposures to minimize glare.

Again, my thoughts returned to the issues of light pollution. Recalling the time back home, when I attempted to photograph some constellations at night, only to have a neighbor’s motion sensor flood light, overwhelmed the backyard with brightness. The piercing light  forced me to find the last remaining, isolated shadowed corner of the yard.

My reminiscing was cut short by a distant, but bright, pinpoint of light from bellow Mount Rainier’s summit. Flashlights from mountain climbers near Camp Muir shined bright—like lighthouse beacons from the semi darkened rocks and glacier fields on the mountain. Even the faintest light can shine bright at night as was noted during World War II, when warships were forbidden from having any exterior lights on at night — including a lit cigarette, which posed a risk of being spotted from great distances by enemy submarines.

Lights from mountain climbers on the approach to the summit of Mount Ranier.

Encountering the Universe’s Brilliance                                                                       The improper, overuse of outdoor lighting has erased one of our basic and most powerful human experiences—encountering the universe’s brilliance with its galaxies and billions of stars shining in the night sky! Making visual contact with our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is one of the greatest shows seen from Earth.

 

In less than a century of civilization’s reliance on electric technology: two-thirds of the U.S., half of Europe and a fifth of people in the world—now live where they cannot see the Milky Way with the unaided eye. You can appreciate how we lost our stellar view by seeing aerial photos taken from orbiting spacecraft and the International Space Station. These startling images taken of the Earth at night, reveal a man-made galaxy of artificial light, which cancels out much of the real one in the sky above.

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Some years back, I was a part-owner in a small recreational ranch, in Eastern Washington’s, Okanogan County. Brining friends over from Seattle, it was often nighttime when we arrived. The instant of exiting the cars, was a startling event as the Milky Way’s intensity of light overwhelmed your senses. The “ranch” was remotely located, at about 5,000 feet in the mountains, near the Canadian border and 30-miles from the closest town. Days would go by where we didn’t see a car or even hear a small airplane go overhead… it was one of the most refreshing experiences of my life, to perceive nothing except wind going through trees and seeing only starlight at night for hours at a time.

Image courtesy of NASA

A television interview with the director of a major observatory in Southern California recounted when Los Angeles had its last electrical blackout —people were calling 911 and his observatory, with reports of strange, bright objects in the night sky. Actually, what the callers were seeing for the first time, was the Milky Way’s canopy of shining stars.

   

Image courtesy of NASA.

Besides forfeiting a life inspiring, wondrous view of the cosmos, there’s tangible losses associated with light pollution. Conservative estimates are—30 % of U.S. outdoor lighting is pointed skyward in the wrong direction, which wastes billions of dollars of electricity. The unnecessary practice of lighting clouds, burns more than 6 million tons of coal, which adds: harmful greenhouse gas emissions, along with toxic chemicals into our atmosphere and water.

Further scientific studies indicate wildlife is suffering the ill effects of excessive urban lighting. The City of Chicago has taken measures to turn off or dim its high-rise lighting to enable migrating birds to continue normal migration patterns. An increase in species of insects attracted to light along with rodents, which are drawn towards bright city lighting, is a growing concern to many scientists.

Heavy equipment product shots never look quite this good. Scheduled improvements to the viewing area above Reflection Lake, had some equipment, taking a nap, before going to work when the sun came up.

Education Is the Solution to Light Pollution                                                                    The reason light pollution continues to expand is, we have grown accustomed to its seemingly benign presence. After all, probably no one can point to a single case of a person killed from overexposure to light pollution. However, there is a growing correlation of health risks associated with overexposure from artificial light. Some of the main symptoms include, physical fatigue and damage to eyesight. This lighting health risk was recognized in 2009, when the American Medical Association officially established a policy, which supports the control of light pollution.

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Municipal lighting codes are beginning to help define and eliminate unnecessary light pollution. Lighting enforcement can create a more pleasing environment, by reducing excessive urban lighting, which causes fatigue from glare and cuts down on unnecessary electric utility cost. Redirecting outdoor lighting away from the sky where it is needlessly wasted is a simple and easy solution.

Installing motion detector security lights are another efficient and productive mitigation strategy. For security purpose, a light, which is triggered by motion is much more effective for crime prevention than a continuous floodlight. Motion detector lights have a clear advantage of focussing our attention onto an area, which is triggered by a sudden change from darkness to bright-light.

The light intensity of the Milky Way is a breathtaking wonder to witness at night —` unrestricted light-pollution has faded this wonder from what was once a valued human experience. You can see the Andromeda Galaxy in the right 1/3 of the frame. Nikon D700 – Nikkor 28mm lens @ F3.5 @ 20 seconds August 11 11:48 p.m.

 

The encouraging news is… the key to reducing light pollution is a simple matter of basic education and action. Public awareness of over-lighting requires a minimal expenditure, which will quickly pay for itself in energy savings and perhaps return the opportunity to experience one of the greatest shows seen from earth. ~

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Light pollution glossary:

Urban Sky glow: the brightening of the night skies over municipalities and communities, caused primarily from high-volumes  of collective, reflected light and poorly directed light, which is pointed upward or not shielded properly.

Light trespass: light falling or spilling into areas where it is not intended. Also know as “spill light” – as in municipal streetlights, which go beyond the intended illumination of street signs and sidewalks, causing an unwanted exterior lighting of residential homes.

Glare: A direct, bright or harsh light, which causes discomfort or pain. The effects of glare can be reduced or eliminated with the use of a shield or filter.

Uplight: Light angled inappropriately upward towards the sky and serving no purpose. Uplight washes out the night sky and reduces opportunities for astronomers and star-gazer to enjoy the beauty of the planets, moon and stars.

Light Clutter: Poorly planned, confusing and unpleasant use of grouped lights usually associated with urban or retail lighting. Retail business often trying to outdo the competition by using overly bright, multicolored or pulsating lights.

Links to articles & information on light pollution:

http://news.discovery.com/animals/light-pollution-a-growing-problem-for-wildlife.html

www.darksky.org/assets/documents/is001.pdf

www.njaa.org/light.html

www.skymaps.com/articles/n0109.html

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_pollution

ngm.nationalgeographic.com/geopedia/Light_Pollution      

There’s Nothing New Under the Sun, or is There?

 Photos & multimedia e-Learning essay by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights — Second Edition
   

Please note: This essay is a follow-up from my chronicle on solar storm effects of the 1859 Carrington Event on an industrial era society— forward to the postmodern, microelectronic world of today. To better understand the context of this article, it’s suggested you view my introduction solar storm essay found  by selecting the March 2012 archives found on the left side of this page.  The National Academy of  Sciences (NAS) (funded by the U.S. Congress) produced a landmark report in 2008 entitled “Severe Space Weather Events— Societal Impacts.” It reported how people of the 21st-century depend on advance-technology systems for daily living, The National Academy of Science stated— Electric power grids, GPS navigation, air travel, financial services and emergency radio communications can all be knocked out by intense solar activity.  A century-class solar storm, the Academy warned, could cause twenty times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina. [1] Some leading solar researchers believe we are now due to a century-class storm.

Photo courtesy of NASA

July 15, 2012 Aurora Borealis sighting near Everett, WA. This event was caused from an X-class solar storm, which occurred within a week of another X-class storm (X-class being the most severe classification). The 11-year solar cycle is approaching a solar maximum around 2013, this will most likely bring more intense solar storm activity.

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Depending on your interpretation of the essay’s title, there is nothing new under the Sun when it comes to our neighboring star’s behavior. Since our Sun left its infancy as a protostar over 4 billion years ago, by triggering a nuclear fusion reaction and entering a main-sequence stage, its solar mechanics have maintained relatively consistent patterns. What has not remained the same is the evolution of life on Earth, in particular, our species’ development of a civilization which now is dependent on a form of energy called electricity.

The name “Aurora Borealis” was given by Galileo Galilei, in 1619 A.D., inspired from the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and Boreas from the Greek name for north wind. First record siting was in 2600 B.C. in China. Collision between oxygen particles in Earth’s atmosphere with charged (ionized) particles released from the sun creates green and yellow luminous colors beginning at altitudes of 50 miles (80 kilometers). Blue or purplish-red is produced from nitrogen particles. The solar particles are attracted by the Earth’s northern and southern magnetic poles with curtains of light stretching east to west.

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Reaching back only a few generations into the 20th Century, electricity was considered a luxury—today ordinary life would be impossible without it! And that’s where our beloved Sun comes into the picture, to potentially cast a shadow on our dependency of electricity. Solar storms have been a reoccurring event before time began, but they didn’t affect people outside of providing a fantastic, special effects light-show                                       until a critical event happened in 1859.

In the mid 19th century, while the industrial revolution was near full development, the resource of electric power was first harnessed. Shortly after the electricity was put into use for    communication using  telegraph technology (a 19th century equivalent of the Internet), is when the Sun revealed                                                                                                  a  shocking surprise in the most powerful solar storm ever recorded, which was known as the Carrington Event.

The year 1859 was near a peak in the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle, when the Sun’s polarity readies for reversal. Approaching  the end  sequence of this magnetic shift, brings a solar maximum , which produces violent solar flares and ejects plasma clouds outwards into space. If the flare occurs in a region opposite of Earth, a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) may send a billion-ton radiation storm towards our planet. Fortunately, the Earth is protected by a robust atmosphere and a magnetic field surrounding the globe, which protects us from most  solar winds. However, an intense solar storm with its charged plasma cloud  can overwhelm our planet’s protective shields. When an extreme solar storm’s magnetic energy contracts with our planet’s protective magnetic field, it creates geomagnetic induced currents (GICs). GICs are massive amounts of electromagnetic energy which travel through the ground and ocean water, seeking the path of  least resistance in power lines, pipelines and rail tracks.

In the extreme solar storm of 1859, the Aurora Borealis was seen near the equator and it was reported  people were able to read newspapers outdoors at midnight. Navigational compasses (19th century version of GPS)  throughout the world spun-out-of-control due to the flux of electromagnetic energy.

                                                 

A more recent, dramatic example of a solar storm’s impact is the 1989, Quebec-Power blackout. The geomagnetic storm created was much milder than the solar maxim of the 1859, Carrington Event. However, it’s a chilling preview of what a complex, unprotected  electrical grid faces when up against the forces of the super solar storm. Quebec-Power’s large transformers were fried by the GICs overloading its grid network. Electrical grids and power-lines  act like a giant antenna in pulling in the  massive flow of geomagnetic energy. In the 1989 solar storm incident, over 6 million people lost power in Eastern Canada and the U.S., with additional connecting power grids on the verge of collapsing.  Again, the powerful 1989 solar disturbance was not the 100 year super storm, but a small preview of what can if  preparations are made to protect the power grid.
Solar scientist are finally able to put together how extreme storms follow an 11 year solar maxim cycle, like the one we’re now entering, and should peak sometime in 2013. Already this year, six major X-class solar storms, the most intense type, have occurred since January. Within one week of July, we had two of the X-class storms, with the last one pointing directly at Earth.  On July 13, 2012, the Washington Post’s Jason Sometime, wrote an article with his concerns on  how NASA and NOAA were sending out inconsistent warnings about the solar storm from July 12.
The federal agency FEMA, appears to have learned its’ lesson from Hurricane Katrina and being proactive with a series of super solar storm scenarios. These scenarios  illustrate the many challenges towards maintaining communication and electric power, based on the strength of the solar event. Without reliable power, food distribution will be problematic. Today we have less reliance on large warehouse  inventories and more dependency on — “just in time” food delivery. According to Willis Risk Solutions (industrial underwriter insurer for electric utilities) and Lloyds World Specialist Insurer (formerly LLoyds of London), there’s a global shortage of industrial large electric transformer, which now are only made in a few countries. It would take years to replace the majority of the World’s electric transformers and technically require massive amounts of electric power, which ironically, would not be available in an event of an extreme geomagnetic storm.
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Select companies and  the federal agencies mentioned in this essay, are overall, considered highly respected and cautious in forecasting major threats to societies and national economies. All of the mentioned government entities and scientific organizations realize it’s not a matter  if, but when will the next super solar storm be aimed and sent to Earth.
The good news is we can still take the necessary precautions to protect our society and the economic future from this clear and present threat. Here’s a link to the 2008 National Academy of Science (funded by congress) report:  Severe Weather—Understanding Societal and Economic Impact: A Workshop Report (2008). This group meets every year to work on preventative strategies. The report contains cost-effective protection plans for electric power grids, please see the link provided.
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Chronicles of the largest solar and geomagnetic storms in the last 500 years.

1847  — First geomagnetic storm caused by a solar flare, which inadvertently was documented using emerging telegraph technology.  Reports were the telegraph system was sending clearer signals by disconnecting its batteries and using the geomagnetic energy from the storm.  First published effects caused from geomagnetic storm.

1859  — Becomes known as the Carrington Event; telegraph system becomes inoperable worldwide as some offices are set on fire from supercharge telegraph wire. This is the largest geomagnetic storm in 500 years. Scientists begin documenting future solar storm activity.

1921 — Know as the “Great Storm” worldwide telegraphs and radio signals become inoperable and cables are burned out. This geomagnetic storm is likely to occur approximately 100 years.

1989 —  Major solar flare erupts on the surface of the Sun opposite of Earth; a resulting solar storm triggers a massive geomagnetic storm, which overwhelms Quebec’s power grid. As a result of the storm, six million people instantly lose power as a U.S. Northeast and Midwest connecting grids come within seconds of the collapse. As a result, the Canadian government becomes proactive and develops strategies to  protect its power grid from future solar storms.

2003 — Know as the “Halloween Storms” this series of geomagnetic storms disrupted GPS, blocked High Frequency (HF) radio and triggered emergency procedures at various nuclear power plants. In Scandinavia and South Africa, section of  power grids were hit hard, as many large power transformers were destroyed by the powerful geomagnetic induced currents (GICs).

Chronological  Reports and News Accounts of Solar Storms From 1859 to 2003

This is one of the most comprehensive list of solar storm accounts on the web. The site chronicles strange solar storm happenings; such as reports in the early 1960s  with TV programs suddenly disappearing and reappearing in other regions. Other unsettling reports include the U.S. being cut off from radio communication from the rest of the world during a geomagnetic storm. Please see link below:  http://www.solarstorms.org/SRefStorms.html 

 

Solar Storm Acronyms and Terms

ACE — Advance Compositional Explore = NASA satellite used in detecting and monitoring potential damaging solar flares and CMEs.

AC — alternating current

BPS — bulk power system 

CME — coronal mass ejection = caused from a solar flare near the surface of the sun, which sends  a billion-ton radiation storm out into space.

EHV — extra high voltage

FERC — United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

GIC — geo-magnetic induced current = an extreme solar storm’s magnetic energy contracts with our planet’s protective magnetic field, creating electric current which conducts or travels through the ground or ocean water.

GMD — geo-magnetic disturbance

GAO — Government Accounting Office

GPS — global positioning system = A series of satellites positioned in an Earth, geostationary orbit for use in military and civilian navigation

NERC — North American Electric Reliability Corporation

NASA — National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NOAA — National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

POES — Polar Operational Environmental Satellite

SEP — solar energetic particle

SOHO — Solar and Heliosphere Observatory (satellite)

STDC — Solar Terrestrial Dispatch Center (Canada)

STEREO — Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (Satellite)

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Please view this most beautiful video time-lapse of the Aurora Borealis http://vimeo.com/11407018
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Sources and Links

NASA Resources

Illustration courtesy of NASA

A useful illustration for understanding NASA’s efforts with Heliophysics System Observatory
Detail explanation of space weather and NASA monitoring can be found at the following link:   http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/spaceweather/index.html
NOAA Solar storm monitors sites:
NOAA is the nation’s official source of space weather alerts, monitoring and alerts. The following NOAA site provides real time monitoring and forecasting of solar and geophysical events.  http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/

NASA and NOAA sites (post warning of impending dangers to the electrical grid from solar storms producing extreme geomagnetic induce currents (GICs) on Earth). http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2009/21jan_severespaceweather/ http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/26oct_solarshield/ http://www.noaawatch.gov/themes/space.php

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/mar/18/solar-storm-flare-disruption-technology

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/07/solar-flare-cme-aurora/

http://www.usfa.fema.gov/fireservice/subjects/emr-isac/infograms/ig2012/4-12.shtm#3

My solar storm articles from February www.bigpictureone.wordpress.com  and in the March edition of  www.ScienceTechTablet.wordpress.com  present a comprehensive picture of how solar flares and solar storms originate, with the potential of producing geomagnetic storms on Earth.  If these geomagnetic storms are severe enough, they can threaten our way of life. Some strategies and common sense precautions are offered  for civic preparedness in the case of an extreme solar event.

The Unworldly Splendor of Oregon’s Painted Hills.

If you would like to see an alternative format in the graphic design of some of the following multimedia presentations, please see our new site at— http://ScienceTechTablet.wordpress.com

Photo/video and text by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

The sun had just set as I arrived at my friend’s condominium on Lake Washington near Seattle. Rick was loading camera equipment into his SUV, Ford Escape — a gasoline-electric hybrid, which holds the honor of being one of the first American-built hybrids.

We had a long drive ahead, which required us to drive all night before reaching our destination in the high desert of Central Oregon. It was a cool, but clear, May evening, as the SUV climbed steadily up to Snoqualmie pass. After cresting the Cascade Mountains we descended into a dryer, warmer Eastern Washington. After a few hours of driving the glow from a near full moon was illuminating the desert sagebrush outside the town of Goldendale on the Columbia River.

Wind turbines above the Columbia River are lit by the moon.

Our adventure to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, was planned to coincide with a full moon for illuminating the surreal Painted Hills. Rick and I use digital cameras, featuring full-sized image sensors and fast optical lenses, which are ideal for capturing low light environments. Taking the opportunity to harness some moonlight as it rose above the Columbia Gorge, we made a stop to photograph wind turbines. These wind gathering  monoliths, heavily populate this section of Washington and Oregon. The site is ideal for wind farms, due to the wind tunnel conditions created by compressed airstreams forcefully moving through the constricted Gorge.   

Standing next to a colossal tower is a strange experience. These massive wind catchers are the largest machines you’ll probably encounter on land. And the eerie sounds caused from wind moving massive propeller blades takes some time getting use to.

Driving on the Washington side of the Columbia River and continuing into Oregon, you see legions of wind turbine sentinels as they constantly harvest the restless winds. It takes an hour of driving south on the highway before we see fewer and then suddenly… no steel towers flanking our drive.

Now what I become aware of is not seeing any cars traveling in either direction of a deserted looking highway. Eastern Oregon’s vast size can’t be appreciated unless you spend some time touring its sprawling, unpopulated counties.

After traveling all night and encountering some falling snow as the hybrid SUV started ascending the road to the high desert—we finally entered into the realm of the primeval Painted Hills. It’s totally dark now that the moon had set hours earlier, cloaking the desert from our view in all directions. Fatigued from hours of driving, we pull into a remote area to catch a couple of hours of sleep before our video and photography expedition can begin.

The John Day Fossil Bed National Monument is organized into three Units; the Painted Hills is the third Unit, which contains 3,132 acres of wildlife, plants and some unusual geology.

Over millions of years, layers of ash from nearby volcanic eruptions mixed with clay. Through the process of erosion, intense surreal hues and patterns of color explode in every direction.

The following morning was a like waking up in some eye-candy dreamland. The colors just popped out at you like viewing a TV monitor, with the hue saturation cranked up high.  Stunned by the startling beauty, I grabbed my video camera on a tripod and began shooting panorama footage. Attempting to capture the details of the environment, an external microphone was used to record the outburst of chattering songbirds, which had woken up to announce the beginning of a new day.

My first impression was of being overwhelmed by sensory overload — it was challenging to take in all the colors, sounds and surreal shapes of the textured topography. What I was seeing, appeared to be out of this world — like viewing some futuristic post cards of a terraformed Martian landscape.

What I remembered from earlier road trips to the Southwest, was how striking the Painted Desert in Arizona was — that location now seemed pale in comparison to the Painted Hills.  What makes the geology of this site so vivid is the saturated colors, caused by a series of volcanic eruptions, taking place over millions of years. The accumulation of layers of ash, dust and clay mixed together from relentless years of erosion to form the hills of strata of colors, like some massive layered cake.

What remains buried beneath the volcanic soil is a time-capsule preserving the fossilized carcasses of mammals and plants, which lived in the region during the  Cenozoic Era —the Age of Mammals. This era began roughly 65 million years ago, so this National Monument is a target rich environment for paleontologist studying fossils from that era.

After I shot about an hour worth of video from the spot from the spot I started from, it was time to scout other dramatic locations.  Not too far into our drive we spotted a family of graceful antelopes, casually grazing in a large field. Apparently, from talking with one of the NPS Rangers, this National Monument is teeming with indigenous wildlife including: bears, cougars and eagles.

Latter in the afternoon we stopped at the side of a gravel road to take in a stunning view of  one of the larger hills at the site.  The clouds above were opening and closing like a massive shutter on a spotlight — producing lighting effects which were irresistible. We set up tripods along with our video and still cameras to begin shooting right away.

Shortly after we setup shop, a ranger pulled up close to the SUV and was intently watching us. Rick and I shrugged as we looked at each other with a shrug, thinking perhaps we had unknowingly parked in a restricted area. Eventually the ranger introduced himself, he had the impression we were part of a National Park Service video crew, which was schedule to be doing work at the Monument.  We were invited to join his walking tour with a group of  photographers into a restricted area of the Painted Hills.  As it turned out, this special photography tour only takes place one weekend out of the entire year —when the John Day chaenactus (a bright yellow wild flower) begins to bloom, then as quickly as it appears—it begins to fade away.

The photographer’s tour was visually fantastic and can only be experienced under the supervision of an NPS Ranger.  The plant life is so fragile here, you’re only allowed to  walk inside a dried out creek bed while touring this area.  The Ranger was gracious enough to allow me to interview him about the site.  Wind is common and unpredictable in this high desert area, so I came prepared with a wind guard on my microphone; but I did experience a few audio dropouts,  hopefully you’ll be able to hear the main message clearly enough.

Later that evening we photographed the landscapes using a full moon for our lighting. I’ve never seen greater clarity of the stars and moon from this high desert environment, which created a great backdrop for an unearthly landscape. We photographed throughout the night until the light of predawn appeared.

At a little over 2,000 feet in elevation, the high desert can produce cold, bone-chilling weather and as mentioned—windy conditions.  I recommend warm clothing and gloves to help keep your hands comfortable from wind-chill.  For photography, the higher altitude is a great benefit, especially for optical clarity if your focus is on night photography of stars and landscapes.

I definitely plan to go back to the Painted Hills as soon as possible… it’s a dreamlike setting I have rarely experienced, which captivates the senses, with its splendor of stunning colors contained within an unworldly environment. ~

LINKS:

Here’s a link to National Park Service’s John Day Fossil Bed National Monument:   http://www.nps.gov/joda/index.htm

Will The Current Solar Storms Hitting Earth, Lead To Lights-out for us by 2013-2014?

Essay and photos by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

 Solar Storm forecast & updates are located above the essay’s first paragraph. These updates will be posted anytime a major solar disturbance is cited. Please read the essay first and return at anytime to view posted updates.

Joint USAF/NOAA Report of Solar and Geophysical Activity
SDF Number 197 Issued at 2200Z on 15 Jul 2012

IA.  Analysis of Solar Active Regions and Activity from  14/2100Z
to 15/2100Z:  Solar activity has been at low levels for the past 24
hours. Region 1520 (S17W48) remains the largest and most
magnetically complex region on the disk, however it has remained
rather stable and quiet. Regions 1521 (S21W60) and 1519 (S17W68) 
have been the most active regions producing low-level C-class
events. Both regions have shown moderate growth in sunspot area and
magnetic complexity. No Earth directed CMEs were observed during
the period.

IB.  Solar Activity Forecast:  Solar activity is expected to be at
low levels with a chance for M-class events for the next three days
(16-18 July).

Friday 13th, 2012— A massive X-Class Solar Flare, which occurred yesterday, is hurling  a coronal mass ejection (CME) towards Earth and will arrive approximately 5:17 A.M. EST according to NASA.  Several events involving this latest solar storm are unusual and are cause for concern: it’s the second massive X-Class (X is the most powerful class of Solar Flares) to take place within a week, the angle of the CME is pointed directly at Earth, potential sighting for the Northern Lights within the southern U.S., NOAA’s forecast is for a mild to moderate  geomagnetic storm on Earth, while NASA predicts a medium to severe storm to occur.

Earlier today, The Washington Post reported  of the conflicting geomagnetic forecast from the leading Federal agencies who monitor solar storms. Today’s events concerning solar storms are matching those cited in the featured February 2012 BPI  essay, indicating early warning of a destructive CME.

NOAA /   Prepared jointly by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA,
 Space Weather Prediction Center and the U.S. Air Force. 3-day Solar-Geophysical Forecast issued Jul 08 22:00 UTC   http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/today.html

Solar Activity Forecast: Solar activity is expected to be moderate with a chance for X-class events for the next three days (09-11 July).

Geophysical Activity Forecast: The geomagnetic field is expected to be mostly quiet on day one (09 July). Quiet to unsettled conditions are expected on day two (10 July), with a chance for isolated active periods due to possible weak effects from the CME observed on 06 July. A return to mostly quiet conditions is expected for day three (11 July).

This year has seen a steady influx of news reports on increased solar storm activity hitting  Earth. Most broadcasts concerning this development is of a less serious kind, featuring its spectacular visual effects, which creates the unworldly, “Northern Lights” or “Aurora Borealis.”  However, a few reports have mentioned necessary cancellations of airline flights using trans-polar flight routes—due to the sun’s disruptive solar flares. Intense solar activity is nothing new, but a recurring event—which has taken place countless times before civilization ever existed on Earth. What’s of concern today is the 11-year peak cycle, of which the sun now is entering, resulting in extreme solar storm activity.  Some solar physicists predict the current cycle of storms may have greater magnitude than any before, including the record solar maximum, chronicled over 150 years ago, in the year of 1859.

Why should anyone care if the solar storm activity becomes more intense than any other time in recorded history?  Simply stated‑‑‑civilization as we know it, could be stopped in its tracks or altered to resemble something not recognizable.

Imagine not being able to turn on lights for illuminating your home or office—communication by phone, email and social media all gone, with no guarantees as to when it could or would be back online. There’s other more challenging issues regarding basic food production and distribution. The cited scenarios are extreme, but are possible consequences from a major solar storm. These intense solar disruptions are known as a “coronal mass ejection” (CME), which could knockout virtually any technology, requiring electricity.  This event could take away most of the technology we depend on and ironically transport our way of life back to the time when the last great CME hit.

If you had a window, which peered back-in-time to the end of August, 1859; you’d see a developing western society on track with an industrial revolution in full-motion.  Harnessing the new wonders of steam energy was nearly complete, however, electrical energy barely had reached its first phase of infancy.  Few applications for electricity existed, except for a remarkable one in the form of instant communication.  By sending electrical pulses through copper wires to a remote electromagnetic receiver, messages were transmitted instantly over great distances. The telegraph could be considered a 19th century equivalent of today’s Internet. This system used a basic, universal binary code developed primarily by the American artist, Samuel F.B. Mores.  By the mid 19th century, scientist demystified electricity’s secrets, and inventors found ways to harness it for communication using “direct current.”

As the summer heat of September approached the northern hemisphere: a series of solar storms increased with startling intensity; producing extreme Northern Lights, which appeared in unlikely places, such as the Caribbean near the equator.  Inhabitants reported in Northeastern America of using the intense Northern Lights to read newspapers with, during the dark hours of night.  Other stories mention groups of people being awakened by this strange, bright light and believing it was actually morning.  All over the World, compasses used for navigation (the rough equivalent of today’s GPS) were no longer giving accurate readings as the Earth’s geomagnetic forces were being distorted by the solar storms energy.

Sunspots were first documented by Galileo in the 17th century, these solar disturbances contribute to solar storms.

Sunspots on the sun’s surface, contributes to forming solar storms, of which Galileo had first observed in the 17th century and by 1745 solar flares were well documented.  Up until 1859, the solar storms only known effects on humans were in producing dazzling display of cosmic fireworks, located far into the northern and southern hemispheres.

The uninformed, industrial age public had no reason for concern as the peak of the solar storm began arriving on September 1st and 2nd.  These extreme, violent sun flares, hurled enormous magnetic clouds of plasma into space, known as a—coronal mass ejection (CME). This CME solar storm became known as the Carrington Event, named for a British astronomer, who first recognized and identified its geomagnetic effects on Earth.

Solar ejections normally take three to four days before reaching Earth, but this extreme burst had a hyper-velocity, which took less than 18-hours for the shock waves to compress the Earth’s protective magnetic field.

 As a surge of solar electromagnetic energy overpowered and broke through part of the Earth’s own protective magnetic field, alarming events began happening.  First, came a series of random, garbled telegraph signals being picked up—which mysteriously, had not been sent by an operator—then reports of telegraph receivers violently bursting into flames —setting secondary fires to office papers along with telegraph lines themselves. Jolts of electricity nearly electrocuted some operators while attempting to disconnect the system’s electrical batteries; even with their disconnection, frenetic signals continued out-of-control from massive energy overflows—the geomagnetic super-storm was sending dangerous charges of electricity through a vast network of copper lines. The geomagnetic storm caused by the sun, devastated an emerging communication infrastructure and severely set back its development.

This record solar storm event appeared on the scene, well before societies and industries realized electricity’s great potential—unlike today with electricity as an essential necessity in just about every part of the technology we use and take for granted today.

Until recently, I’ve always looked forward to the Northern Lights dazzling arrival. I recall my first  Aurora Borealis encounter shortly after graduating from college, while on a road trip to the Olympic Rain Forest. Camping out in the Olympic Mountains, the northern sky began glowing at twilight with vivid illuminating curtains moving until they were flashing directly overhead. I kept watching the surreal specters until they exited out of view an hour later.

The next time I viewed these mysterious lights happened on a photography assignment to the “North Slope” oil fields, located above Alaska’s arctic circle. The Earth’s natural magnetic field, which protects the planet from much of the sun’s solar radiation, is weakest near the Earth’s polar regions; allowing for solar winds to enter and interact with our atmosphere to create the Aurora—this is why the cosmic lights are viewed while looking north, in the northern hemisphere and the reverse for the southern hemisphere.  

Captivated by the up-close experience of the Aurora’s light; I endured the extreme outside temperature which was minus 40 degrees.  Facing frigid arctic weather, I photographed the light show, until the springs controlling my camera’s shutter began to freeze up.

Actually today’s digital cameras make it easier to photograph the northern lights.  Digital cameras, especially high-end, professional versions are much more low light-sensitive than film camera were and have a better tonal-dynamic-range.  My all-time-favorite Northern Lights experience was in Eastern Washington, where I was at a ranch in the Okanogan region.  This encounter was so full of effervescent bright light, it woke up birds from a night sleep as they began to take flight while making loud, chirping sounds as if dawn had arrived. In this environment, with no light-pollution from a city, while located at a 5,000 foot elevation, made for an ideal night-sky photography experience.

In 2003 was one of the greatest solar flare events in contemporary history —the Northern Lights were so intense, I easily photographed them from my home in Western Washington.   Despite the bright lights coming from a nearby city, they did not obscure the luminous Aurora Borealis view. The referenced photos of the Northern Lights were taken from my home, are featured in this essay.  In these images you can see the glowing transient—green, red and purple color produced, as the sun’s energy interacts with various gas elements which comprise the Earth’s atmosphere.

The reason for solar flare events to peak in 2013 or possibly in early 2014, is due to the sun’s magnetic field reversing polarity within an 11-year cycle.  It takes a full 22-years for the sun’s magnetic fields to return to their original pole positions, which then completes a full cycle. Apparently, near the 11-year cycle, which our sun has entered, the solar flare activity becomes more intense.

The 1859 record solar maxim was on one of these 11 years cycles. Another theory connected with returning mammoth CMEs is the high quantity of sunspots recorded over the past couple of decades.  Sunspots appear when portions of our star’s internal superheated matter, mixes with cooler regions above the surface; creating intense magnetic fields. These magnetic fields are swept up, and then forced below the surface, where they become recycled by the sun’s complex quantum mechanics.  Energy from sunspots becomes amplified, creating even more extreme magnetic fields as they resurface form a four or five-year subsurface journey.  These magnetic disturbance interact to create concentrated arcs of solar energy, which are so powerful they are ejected outward in the form of solar flares.

Other methods scientist use for estimating the potential scale of this year’s solar storms is to examine recent solar cycles—looking for progressive trends or patterns for their projections.

In 1989 a CME hit the Earth with intense energy particles, causing the electrical grid in Quebec, Canada, to crash, which plunged millions of people into darkness.  This event took place during the “cold war” and it caused severe shortwave radio disruptions with Aurora Borealis sightings in south Texas.  Some believed the disruption was the beginning of a Soviet nuclear first strike, using intense electromagnetic energy to disrupt communications and electric grid infrastructure.  In reality the blackout was caused by a CME, created from the  sun’s own nuclear energy.  Acting like a giant teetering domino, the event triggered a chain reaction, taking down interconnecting electric networks within a large region of North America—but even this event was not on a scale with the mega storm of 1859.  That’s why some scientist view the 30-year old, Hydro-Quebec solar storm as a telegraphed alarm warning.

With demand for power growing even faster than the grids themselves, modern networks are sprawling, interconnected, and stressed to the limit—a recipe for trouble, according to the National Academy of Sciences:The scale and speed of problems that could occur on [these modern grids] have the potential to impact the power system in ways not previously experienced.” There’s fear the expanded network of lines creates a bigger antenna enabling it channel a geomagnetic induced current (GIC.)  NASA has become alarmed with how much more vulnerable the North American power grid has become, it co-developed an experimental program called “Solar Shield” to help warn utilities of impending geomagnetic storms.

Since 1989 we have become much more dependent on microelectronics, with their intricate architecture of high density, compressed components.  Having unshielded microcircuits squeezed tightly together increases the odds of severe damaged caused from geomagnetically induced currents (GICs).  The 1989 solar storm event damage at least 30 satellites, some  of which were beyond repair.  Solar storms can easily scramble the intricate digital components of low-orbit satellites and disorient them from knowing which way is up or down.

In theory, with enough warning, orbiting satellites are safely switched off or pointed away from the sun’s destructive radiation.  Early warning satellites are now positioned at a L1 point, geostationary orbit to monitor solar storms and announce threatening CME activity.  Solar Shield Project is a collaboration between NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).  The purpose of this project is for establishing a forecasting system, which can be used to lessen the impact of geomagnetically induced current (GIC) on high-voltage power transmission systems. (Please see associated link bellow for more information.)

The Earths atmosphere and magnetic fields normally protects us from the harmful solar storm’s radiation.  Higher exposure to the sun’s powerful energy becomes a factor once you start climbing in elevation. Radiation exposure is a secondary reason why airlines must divert from their trans-polar routes, to avoid excessive exposure.

Disruption of GPS and radio communication from the solar storms is the primary reason for flight diversions.  Astronauts working above Earth’s protective atmosphere face the greatest risk from such effects caused from solar flares. These stellar storms have shortened or alter a number of space missions in the past. The Russian’s space station MIR in 1993 had an unfortunate encounter with a solar storm, exposing the cosmonauts to dangerous levels of over 10 times the normal allowable radiation limits.                              

What could be warning signs or likely indicators of an impending maxim solar disturbance?  So far, NASA and NOAA are the only government agencies I’m aware of who’s keeping the public informed with the most current status of solar flares.

At the end of this essay are links, which give important information on this year’s solar storms including: NASA and NOAA sites, which monitor hourly conditions. If solar storm activity becomes alarming, NASA will most likely be out front with the reports and major news networks will probably soon follow.  If a certain threshold of (x-rays) is reached within the first phase of a major solar storm, the FAA will order cancellations of airlines with trans-polar flights.  Disruption of shortwave radio communication is the earliest indicator of a severe storm.  If conditions become dire, all but emergency flights would be grounded indefinitely.

 - Image courtesy of NASA

– Image courtesy of NASA

If NASA issued orders to evacuate astronauts from the International Space Station (ISS), this would probably be a strong indicator the radiation levels from the second phase of a storm are severe. Supposedly the center of the Space Station has enough mass to offer some protection from this type of event, but NASA would probably play it safe and order emergency return flights, that is, if there was enough time. Seeing the Northern Lights close to the equator would be a strong indicator the Earth’s geomagnetic fields were being overrun, meaning the big one might be arriving.  If a major CME  (the particle phase of a storm) 752830main_iss036e002224_fullcomes our way, there may be 18 hours or less to prepare.  On the positive side, unlike a major earthquake or other natural disasters we at least would have some time to prepare and be ready to brace for a worst case scenario.

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It would be an unfortunate irony if the sun made our world go dark, but here’s how it could happen. The National Academy of Science produced a 2008 report warning, if we had another major solar storm like the 1859 Carrington event, we would have extensive blackouts with the loss of key transformers.  Our Nation’s electrical utilities have in all total, less than 400 major transformers to supply all the power we use. There are no longer any companies within the U.S., which make massive sized transformers. If an extreme solar maxim arrives, we’ll probably be on a long waiting list (along with the rest of the world) for key replacements. Given enough time, these massive electrical components can be built domestically, but it could take years — a major obstacle and a catch-22 — transformers require huge amounts of electricity for their construction.

Even without a disaster happening, electric utilities face a minimum of two-years from when a major transformer (average cost 4 million dollars) is ordered and finally installed (according to a global, equipment insurance company.) Critical shortages of raw materials and trained workforce for transformer installation contribute to this problem. Hopefully the utility company supplying your community power, learned a lesson from the 1989 Hydro-Quebec blackout. There are preventive strategies to guard against geomagnetic induced current (GIC)—such as a “solid ground system;” which is an industry design to help protect electrical infrastructure from a nuclear induced: electromagnetic pulse (EMP.)

An EMP creates a tremendous amount of electromagnetic energy, similar in some ways to a naturally occurring solar storm CME.  The next best plan for the electric utilities will be to disconnect the power lines from any plant’s key equipment threatened by massive surges of electromagnetic energy.  Just disconnecting lines could prove ineffective if a surge was big enough. The  connecting leads to a transformer could possibly be used as an antenna for attracting the surge of electromagnetic energy.

There is something you can do to protect your own electrical devices from the devastating effects of either a solar CME or a nuclear EMP.  You can easily, with very little cost, build what is known as a Faraday cage to protect your equipment.  For instance for: a radio, cell phone or batteries (all of which are vulnerable to massive electrical surges;) you first wrap the devices in thick plastic like a freezer bag or bubble wrap, then use three layers of aluminum foil to completely wrap the devices so there are no gaps. The plastic acts as an insulator from the metal foil which intern deflects energy.

I’ve include a web link to an electrical engineer’s website who explains the procedures and others for protecting against Solar CMEs or EMPs. You can also do a google search for Faraday cage.  Unplugging your electrical equipment from outlets is a good safety precaution, which ordinarily could protect you against a lighting storms, but will probably not prevent your electronics from being fried from a major CME.  If you remembered what happen to the telegraph system, which was hit by the largest CME in history in 1859, the electromagnetic energy used the unconnected wires from the telegraph as an antenna to channel its force through. Tesla, the great Hungarian born inventor who championed AC electrical power, proved electrical transmission could efficiently be sent through air without using power lines.

One other critical infrastructure which could be devastated from an CME or EMP is major pipelines.  The metal in power-lines an pipelines is a great conductor for geomagnetic energy. Testing has shown electromagnetic surges can effect the controls for monitoring pressure and flow of buried high-pressure pipelines. In Russia, it was found past solar storms have caused severe corrosion effects on some of its pipeline.  Apparently, the corrosion effects is not as much of an issue in the North America because the pipes are manufactured using a more advanced process.

For most civil preparedness involving impending emergencies, it’s best to listen to experts who advise: always have enough: food, water and flashlights on hand to survive what happens after a major natural disaster event occurs.  A good plan for how to keep in contact with family members will be critical if a major solar storm event occurs; especially with an extreme maxim CME, as communication equipment will be toast unless it was properly shielded from the event. Self-reliance is a good policy to help sustain individuals and families from the effects due to a major solar storm or catastrophe. Most  common-sense preparations mentioned in this essay are basics ones every family should have in-place, in case of an earthquake or any major disaster occurrence.

Will a decimating solar storm hit in 2013 or 2014?  No one can forecast for certain how severe this solar maxim will or will not be—however, if there’s enough strength behind the solar storm and its path becomes directly aimed towards Earth, then it could be the greatest challenge civilization has ever faced. Learning from the lessons of history has been an essential part of the human experience—we successfully thrive in the moment by learning from histories past events. This seems so obvious for self-preservation, but it involves a fine-tuned balancing process—between what we carefully choose to forget of painful tragedies, versus remembering our own inspirational triumphs. Ideally, the value of any-type of learning, produces confidence and preparedness for future encounters, situations and events.

Given a solar CMEs disruptive potential, it’s in everyone’s self-interest to judge the potential risk; then have an action-plan to help lessen the life-altering impact from an extreme-act-of-nature.  Personally, I don’t sense any impending doom with this year’s solar maxim.  By doing basic research, to become educated on solar events, I gained knowledge on the potential for some disruption to our infrastructure. With informed awareness, I’m confident I’ve taken the necessary precautions for my family to best be ready for this and any future natural disasters, which may arrive from over the horizon. ~

The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights have been revered and feared by ancient and prehistoric cultures. The phenomena are created from solar winds colliding and interacting with Earth’s atmosphere

Bellow are useful links related to the subject solar storms including official government agencies including: NASA and NOAA.  Other sites and articles include those from: National Geographic, Washington Post and Christian Science Monitor.

You’re encouraged to click on the links below to learn more about solar storms. ↓

A most beautiful video time-lapse of the Aurora Borealis  http://vimeo.com/11407018

http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/

http:science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2003/23oct_superstorm/

Solar Shield Project is a collaborative project between NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).  http://ccmc.gsfc.nasa.govAn electrical engineer, who gives great information on how to protect your electrical components from EMP blast, produces this site. He also offers an expert opinion of what to expect will happen to our Nation’s electrical grid, if such an event occurs. http://www.futurescience.com/emp/emp-protection.html

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/03/110302-solar-flares-sun-storms-earth-danger-carrington-event-science/

http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/Cool-Astronomy/2010/0809/Could-a-solar-storm-send-us-back-to-the-Stone-Age

http://www.flixxy.com/solar-storm-1859.html

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2012/03/120308-solar-flare-storm-sun-space-weather-science-aurora/

auroras-flights-sun-earth-space-science

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