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The 23rd Cycle: Learning to Live with a Stormy Star [NOOK Book]

Overview


On March 13, 1989, the entire Quebec power grid collapsed, automatic garage doors in California suburbs began to open and close without apparent reason, and microchip production came to a halt in the Northeast; in space, communications satellites had to be manually repointed after flipping upside down, and pressure readings on hydrogen tank supplies on board the Space Shuttle Discovery peaked, causing NASA to consider aborting the mission. What was the cause of all these seemingly disparate events? Sten Odenwald...
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The 23rd Cycle: Learning to Live with a Stormy Star

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Overview


On March 13, 1989, the entire Quebec power grid collapsed, automatic garage doors in California suburbs began to open and close without apparent reason, and microchip production came to a halt in the Northeast; in space, communications satellites had to be manually repointed after flipping upside down, and pressure readings on hydrogen tank supplies on board the Space Shuttle Discovery peaked, causing NASA to consider aborting the mission. What was the cause of all these seemingly disparate events? Sten Odenwald gives convincing evidence of the mischievous—and potentially catastrophic—power of solar storms and the far-reaching effects of the coming "big one" brewing in the sun and estimated to culminate in the twenty-third cycle in the year 2001 and beyond. When the sun undergoes its cyclic "solar maximum," a time when fierce solar flares and storms erupt, fantastic auroras will be seen around the world. But the breathtaking spectacles will herald a potentially disastrous chain of events that merit greater preparation than Y2K. Is anyone listening?

The 23rd Cycle traces the previously untold history of solar storms and the ways in which they were perceived by astronomers—and even occasionally covered up by satellite companies. Punctuated with an insert containing dramatic color images showing the erupting sun, the book also includes a history of the record of auroral sightings, accounts of communications blackouts from the twentieth century, a list of industries sensitive to solar storms, and information about radiation and health issues.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Most people don't have any idea of how "space weather" can affect their daily lives. Our sun goes through a distinct 11-year cycle of increasingly violent activity, and we are just now entering the 23rd cycle. Solar storms can render satellites inoperable, cause major blackouts, and wreak havoc with cell phones. As we become ever more dependent on technology, solar storms will be known as major natural disasters, along with hurricanes, earthquakes, and the like. The history and science of solar cycles are admirably explored by noted astonomer Sten Odenwald, author of The Astonomy Café.
Joe Allen
Sten Odenwald has done an extraordinary job of collecting a massive amount of information from a large array of sources. His effort will be appreciated by all who are interested in the subject of what happens when a disturbed Sun erupts and its emissions and ejecta intercept the Earth and its satellites.
American Scientist
Odenwald . . . gives us reason to worry about how ill-prepared we are for geomagnetic disturbances in the future. It's scary enough to warrant a Hollywood disaster movie.
Neil de Grasse Tyson
With his first book The Astronomy Café, Sten Odenwald demonstrated that he belongs at the interface between the cosmic frontier and public inquiry of that frontier. With The 23rd Cycle, he now brings to us an exposé on the ups and downs of the Sun, our home star. With its eleven-year pattern of gurgling and churning gases we learn how turbulent the Sun is, and how turbulent it can get. But most important, we learn whether or not we should worry about it.
T. Eastman
Odenwald (NASA offers an outstanding nontechnical introduction to the solar-terrestrial environment with a focus on "space weather". He weaves a fascinating story using numerous examples of space weather impacts on human and technological systems. Scientific references are highly accessible and accurate throughout.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
During the year 2000, the number of sunspots reached the peak of their 11-year cycle, the 23rd such cycle since scientists first discovered the dark solar blotches. So what? As Odenwald, a NASA staffer and Washington Post contributor (The Astronomy Cafe), and other scientists expected, this proliferation of solar storms produced marked effects on Earth, including an increase in the intensity and extent of auroras. Odenwald warns that the 23rd cycle may also produce other, less welcome effects before it reaches its quiescent end in 2006, and the 24th cycle will be even more problematic. His prediction is based on the increasing vulnerability of advanced technology to space weather phenomena, such as bursts of X-rays and energetic particles or geomagnetic storms. The failure of satellites and even gas pipelines have been attributed to the impact of solar storms; given our increasingly networked digital infrastructure and our growing reliance on space-based technology, Odenwald foresees future problems with communication, navigation and electric power grids, all subject to sudden failure from events that begin on the sun. Astronauts may suffer radiation sickness--even death-- if caught without warning or sufficient protection. The problems are sociological and political as well as technological, Odenwald asserts. As space-based business proliferates, it is often advantageous to hide small failures due to space weather or to attribute them to other causes. Practical technological needs carry little weight when NASA funding depends on scientific merit, Odenwald declares, calling for more funding to understand and predict space weather. "The sun is not the well-behaved neighbor we would like to imagine," he says. Odenwald offers a cogent warning, which deserves to have an impact beyond the book's own immediate readership of space science enthusiasts. B&w and color illus. not seen by PW. (Feb.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
With the Sun about halfway through its 23rd sunspot cycle since the 18th century, there is a chance that solar flares and coronal mass ejections (giant bubbles of hot gas erupting from the Sun) will affect the Earth's atmosphere and magnetic field during the next few years. Though the effects might be limited to relatively benign auroras in remote regions, there is a small probability that sufficiently powerful solar outbursts could permanently disable communications satellites and black out entire regions of the global electrical power grid. Such disruptions are so infrequent that most satellite owners and electrical utilities have opted not to invest in protective technology, but if they do occur the economic consequences could be severe. This book presents an interesting explanation of this phenomenon, but, surprisingly, it is much more technical than one might expect from Odenwald, author of the Astronomy Cafe web site and book. Libraries seeking more general titles should consider From the Sun: Auroras, Magnetic Storms, Solar Flares, Cosmic Rays (American Geophysical Union, 1998) or Kenneth R. Lang's Sun, Earth and Sky (Copernicus: Springer-Verlag, 1997). For astronomy, space science, and engineering collections.--Nancy R. Curtis, Univ. of Maine Lib., Orono Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Y2K was nothing compared to the potential disaster heading for planet Earth in 2000 and 2001, says astronomer Odenwald. Those years will see a peak activity of solar flares and storms that will produce lovely auroras around the world, but may also wreak havoc with anything electronic. He looks at the history of the phenomena and explains why they are so potentially disruptive now. Odenwald is the author of and numerous articles for and magazines. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
American Scientist

Odenwald... gives us reason to worry about how ill-prepared we are for geomagnetic disturbances in the future. It's scary enough to warrant a Hollywood disaster movie.

Sky & Telescope

Odenwald uses a breezy journalistic style as he explores solar eruptions and how these interfere with such vital elements as electrical power grids, long-distance piplines, and navigation.

Choice
Odenwald (NASA) offers an outstanding nontechnical introduction to the solar-terrestrial environment with a focus on "space weather". He weaves a fascinating story using numerous examples of space weather impacts on human and technological systems. Scientific references are highly accessible and accurate throughout.

— T. Eastman

Astronomy Now
A fine summary of space weather effects, and how they work to the detriment of many satellite-based communications systems and, even, technology at ground level. I recommend Odenwald's book as a guide to the subtler, but very important, processes which occur in tandem with spectacular auroral storms.

— Neil Bone

Choice - T. Eastman

Odenwald (NASA) offers an outstanding nontechnical introduction to the solar-terrestrial environment with a focus on "space weather". He weaves a fascinating story using numerous examples of space weather impacts on human and technological systems. Scientific references are highly accessible and accurate throughout.

Astronomy Now - Neil Bone

A fine summary of space weather effects, and how they work to the detriment of many satellite-based communications systems and, even, technology at ground level. I recommend Odenwald's book as a guide to the subtler, but very important, processes which occur in tandem with spectacular auroral storms.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231505932
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 7/24/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,127,678
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author


Sten Odenwald, an astronomer with Raytheon ITSS, is currently the education and public outreach manager for the NASA IMAGE satellite program. He is the author of The Astronomy Cafe.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2014

    Stormstar

    Stormstar stomped around...angrily.

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