Into Great Science | Solar Flares

Very interesting report today in the Telegraph that NASA have detected a large solar flare erupting from the sun – which is likely to cause some spectacular displays of the northern and southern lights.

These ‘coronal mass injections’ are actually a source of immense worry for disaster planners, as the largest eruption could result in every electrical device on earth having to be switched off to protect it from destruction. This has happened before: the ‘Carrington Event’ of 1859, in which the few electrical machines of the time burst into flames, and telegraph operators were sent flying across the room.

Hearing about this on the BBC science programme Material World inspired me to write a short story, which I’ve uploaded here for the first time. For those of you who enjoy short-form fiction, hope you enjoy it. The story concerns an astronaut turned monk, who is called out of his hermitage by a forward thinking Pope hoping to reinvigorate support for Catholicism and help a cash-strapped NASA by putting a man on a Voyager-style probe on a journey out of the solar system. As the solar storm hits, those in mission control know that the astronaut will not survive, but as he struggles with loneliness and dwindling faith, they wonder if it would even have been right to tell him of his fate…

Download and read the PDF here: Into Great Science Aug 10 And do it quick before your devices get fried 😉

(Update thanks for all those who downloaded this and read it free. As an experiment I’ve removed the PDF link and have now published this on Kindle. UK link here, US link here.)


One response to “Into Great Science | Solar Flares”

  1. Acetate Monkey

    Great story. Completely distracted me from the work I’m supposed to be doing. Thanks. Must shut down now before