Dr Jim Wild - Weathering solar stormsSpace 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 the solar wind and bathed in the remnants of the Sun's massive magnetic field. While generally imperceptible to humans here 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.
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. Jim Wild looks at the science behind space weather and considers some of the implications of living with a star.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Jim Wild is a space scientist and lecturer at Lancaster University, he is also one of the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council's Science in Society Fellows. Having studied the physics of the auroral ionosphere for his doctorate at the University of Leicester, he now exploits a host of experiments in the high Arctic and international satellite missions to explore the electromagnetic coupling that links the Earth to the Sun. As well as revealing the nature of the space environment in which we live, his research has implications for the man-made systems and technologies on which modern society depends.
Jim Wild's homepage is: www.jwild.co.uk
Saturday, 16 July 2011 14:00