Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Carrington Event

     Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) are not uncommon events in our solar system. Nitrate layers in Greenland ice cores suggest that large CMEs hit our planet, on average, once every 500 years; smaller ones, several times each century. Relatively minor CMEs affected our world in 1921 and again in 1960.
Coronal Mass Ejections

     Even within the past thirty years, several severe solar storms and CMEs have taken place and affected our planet. In 1989, complete loss of the power grid was seen in the Canadian province of Quebec leaving nearly 7 million people without electricity,  the outage lasting 6 days. Between 1994 and 1997, severe solar geomagnetic storms were responsible for 600 million dollars worth of damage to orbiting communications satellites.
     In October 2003, a CME was detected and measures taken to prevent grid or communications damage but the blast was so strong that auroras were seen as far south as the Mediterranean. On July 14, 2003 (Bastille Day Event), a CME was launched, mostly missing the earth but reaching far enough out into space to be detected by the old Voyageur spacecraft.
Area Affected (Blue) by 1989 CME
     But the largest coronal mass ejection documented since 'modern' scientists were able to study the sun occurred in 1859. This CME is called 'The Carrington Event' (after the British astronomer, Richard Carrington).
     On September 1, 1859, only 17 hours after the massive solar flare was noted by Carrington, the CME slammed into our planet. Auroras were seen around the earth as far south as the Caribbean.
     Miners in the US Rocky Mountains awoke to a glow in the night sky that made them think that it was already morning.
Richard Carrington

     On the east coast of North America, people could read their newspapers as if it were daytime. Communication (telegraph) systems failed, giving electrical shocks to their operators and setting telegraph paper on fire. Some systems shut down completely but others continued to work despite being disconnected from their power source, power being fed to the machines through the static in the air!

     Today, we are much more reliant than in 1859 on electronic technology for our communications, travel even our weapon systems.
     So, what would happen in today's world if when our planet takes a direct hit by a coronal mass ejection?
     For an interesting video about The Carrington Event, click on the link below.
     *Solar radiation: subject of research for the novel  The Tao of the Thirteenth God - Amazon Kindle.

The End of the World

     Eschatology: The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as theological 'science' concerned with the last 4 things: death, judgement, heaven and hell (The End of the World).
Angels and the Jewish Apocalypse
     But this is seen not just in the west, not just in Judeo-Christian culture (Books of Isaiah, Daniel, Matthew, Revelation); but also in Islam (the Hadith-sayings of Mohammed), Hinduism (Shiva will destroy the world), some forms of Buddhism, the Baha'i faith (more 'symbolic' eschatology some say, than in other religions), Zoroatrianism (molten metal will flow across the earth like a river).
     The earliest known example of a Jewish Apocalypse is the Book of Daniel (middle 200s B.C.). Some researchers state that at least a part of the Book of Enoch came before the Book of  Daniel). The 'end' in early Jewish tradition would be announced by great portents, and convulsions of nature, 'signs' on the earth and in the heavens. Generally, the idea was that the surrounding nations would be overcome, allowing the Hebrew people to rise to the occasion.

Manuscript of The Book of Enoch

     The idiom the '(hand) writing on the wall', is a portent of doom or misfortune, a saying which derives Book of Daniel (chapter 5) in which the fingers of a supernatural hand write a mysterious message in the presence of Belshazaar, king of Babylon. The writing foretells the demise of the Babylonian Empire. The phrase 'the writing is on the wall' is now a popular idiom for 'something bad is about to happen'. The 'end of the world', the apocalypse' have all been used in association with this phrase in Christian eschatology prophecy.

     The Muslim view of apocalypse is likely derived primarily from the Book of Daniel and the Book of Revelation (although Daniel is not mentioned in the Koran). In Jean-Pierre Filiu's 2011 book 'Apocalypse in Islam', he describes the fast-growing belief in Muslim countries that the end of the world is at hand--and with it the 'Great Battle' prophesied by both Sunni and Shi'ite tradition, which many believers expect will begin in the Afghan-Pakistani borderlands.
The Writing on the Wall

     According to the Hadith, a collection of the sayings of Muhammad, the end of the world will begin with the arrival of the Mahdi (see post: Invisible/Hidden Gods) who will become Caliph, destroy the Anti-Christ and bring in peace and justice.

     In Hinduism, time is cyclic, consisting of cycles ('Kalpas'), repeating infinitely. A true 'end time' as seen in other religious beliefs does not exists as such. However, Kalpa (and its sub cycles) has its own start and end. One Kalpa lasts 8.64 billion years. Traditional prophecies, as described in the Puranas and several other sacred Hindu texts, say that the world shall fall into chaos and degradation.
     Apocalypse for the Hindu is the natural ending of the world in the fourth age, the Kali Age. It is one of a series of apocalypses, each of which marks the end of one cycle and the beginning of another creation. It is said that Vishnu will appear again soon, as Kalki, a white horse, destined to destroy the present world and to take humanity to a different, higher plane.

     There are four yugs, or ages, in this process from complete purity to complete impurity. The final is Kali Yuga (the Dark Age), where civilization becomes spiritually degraded, human lives are shortened by violence and disease, and there is a general state of decay in nature. This is the worst period before complete destruction which is then followed by a golden age.
Hindu Apocalypse


     Besides 'molten metal that will flow across the earth like a river', Zoroastrian sacred texts tell the story of apocalypse, a tale of a terrible winter and a time when all wolves will meet together and will merge into one vast wolf (Frashegird). All snakes also will merge into one vast serpent (see post: The Serpent).
     In the New World, the Hopi believed that Sotuknang destroyed the 'first world' by 'opening up the volcanoes'. 

Zoroastrian Apocalypse - Frashegird

     The Maya of Mesoamerica (depending on what you read), predicted that The End of the World (or perhaps just a new beginning?) would occur in December 2012. It didn't happen.
      All of these teachings are perhaps more metaphorical than real. Whether you believe any one of them may not be important when you consider 'Scientific Eschatology' - comet impacts, extreme volcanic eruptions, coronal mass ejections (CMEs ie severe solar storms)...see post: The Carrington Event.

Sotuknang - Hopi Apocalypse

     *Apocalypse: subject of research for the novel  The Tao of the Thirteenth God - Amazon Kindle.