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Guest speaker Dr James Wild, Department of Physics, Lancaster University
Title: "Weathering Solar Storms"
Venue: Rupert Beckett Lecture Theatre, Michael Sadler Building
Monday 6th December 2010, 7pm
Space isn't quite as cold and empty as you might first think. The Earth is embedded within the outer atmosphere of the Sun and is constantly buffeted by solar wind plasma and bathed in the remnants of the Sun's massive magnetic field. This electromagnetic linkage gives rise to both the aurora borealis, a phenomenon that has captivated observers for thousands of years, and the Earth's radiation belts, a phenomenon only discovered at the dawn of the space age.
Although generally imperceptible to the majority of life on Earth, changes in the space environment, so-called "space weather", can have an impact upon man-made technologies under, on and above the surface of the Earth. Nevertheless, over 150 years ago, English astronomer Richard Carrington observed a massive solar flare and the geomagnetic storm that resulted was the most powerful on record. Although Victorian technologies were temporarily disrupted, some fear that a similar event today could disable the high-tech infrastructure that underpins modern society.
Dr. Jim Wild, from Lancaster University's Department of Physics, looks at the physics of the solar-terrestrial environment and considers some of the implications of living with a star.