Weird Science for Weird Stories


Ever heard of the Carrington Event?

In 1859, there was a powerful solar storm, the most powerful one documented by man at that time.

Amateur astrologer Richard Carrington was sketching sun spots in his observatory when brilliant light signaled an explosion on the sun’s surface. A massive solar flare, with the energy of 10 billion atomic bombs, erupted, sending that energy directly at the earth.

Christopher Klein, writing for History Channel’s History in the Headlines, writes:

“That night, telegraph communications around the world began to fail; there were reports of sparks showering from telegraph machines, shocking operators and setting papers ablaze. All over the planet, colorful auroras illuminated the nighttime skies, glowing so brightly that birds began to chirp and laborers started their daily chores, believing the sun had begun rising. Some thought the end of the world was at hand. . .”

Fast forward to 2012.

NASA reports that the sun is ramping up its solar activity in a regular 11 year cycle. Astronomers around the globe are watching large coronal mass ejections. Weird cloud formations, unlike anything ever seen before, are attributed to atmospheric disturbances caused by solar weather. Other sky phenomenon, normally seen only in the arctic regions, are appearing in lower latitudes. The cause? Solar activity.

It’s said if the same size solar storm that hit the earth in 1859 were to hit the earth today, the electromagnetic blast would result in a massive power grid failure. In the past several days, there have been reports of bizarre events in the United States that sound eerily like the damage to the electrical power system in existence in 1859, the telegraph lines. Read the following reports and see if you agree.

Furthermore, pull out the laptop computer. Find a comfy chair. If these news items don’t fire up your imagination for a science fiction story, nothing will.

Thousands of Central Texans without power early Thursday after poles catch fire

By KIRSTEN CROW

Friday December 7, 2012

Thousands of Central Texans lost power early Thursday morning when dozens of utility poles in several counties caught fire, likely sparked by weather conditions, officials said.

The phenomenon that caused the fires, known as “tracking,” can occur when dust accumulated on the insulators of utility poles comes into contact with heavy fog conditions, according to experts. The moisture, combined with caked-on elements, can act as a conductor of sorts, causing electricity in the power lines to arc and the poles to catch fire, several experts said.

Although emergency and power officials said isolated incidents are not necessarily uncommon, several said the sheer number of such fires in such a short period of time Thursday morning was unique.

A work crew from Hilco Electric Cooperative works on one of dozens of Central Texas power poles that caught fire early Thursday.

Hilco Electric Cooperative, which serves Dallas, Ellis, Hill, McLennan and Johnson counties, had 26 poles catch fire — 24 of them in Hill and McLennan Counties, assistant general manager Lea Sanders said.

“We haven’t experienced anything of this magnitude before,” said Sanders, who has worked at Hilco for 13 years. . . .

ANOTHER STORY FROM THE TEXAS NEWSPAPER ROCKWALL HERALD BANNER:

December 6, 2012

Utility pole fire shuts down I-30, creates traffic nightmare

By Caleb Slinkard & Emma Mills

Thu Dec 06, 2012, 05:08 PM CST

ROCKWALL — A utility pole fire in Rowlett near Dalrock Road shut down both sides of Interstate 30 Thursday morning as Oncor Electronic Delivery employees worked to keep the pole from collapsing onto the highway, bringing power lines with it. The fire, which began around 10 a.m., was extinguished by utility workers at approximately 11 a.m.

Catherine Cuellar, Oncor’s Communications Manager, said that the cause of the fire is unknown at the time and she contradicted reports from NBC 5 that the pole had burned completely through and tension kept the power lines in place. . . .

FINALLY, FROM KCENTV.COM, ALSO IN TEXAS:

A series of utility pole fires across Central Texas caught on fire early Thursday morning, causing people in several counties to lose power.

Crews spend the day hard at work.

They’re repairing utility poles like the one in front of Andy McDonald’s house in Lorena. It was one of around 60 to catch fire across Bell, McLennan, Falls and Hill counties Thursday morning.

“Kind of like our own personal Olympic torch,” McDonald described the candle-like flames atop the pole.

The lights went out around 6 a.m., then his daughter spotted the fire.

“There were chunks of burning wood on the ground…(we) went out and poured water on it.”

Across Central Texas law enforcement officials scratched their heads.

“I can’t even say career – not in my lifetime have I heard of this,” said DPS Trooper D. L. Wilson. . . .

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