Another Week, Another EMP Warning, But Does Michael Maloof Know of What He Writes?

Posted: November 22, 2013 in science
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’ve been busy, so I missed a couple of Michael Maloof’s updates. But, a few days ago, he took the opportunity of anything “weird” happening with the sun (or, in this case, perfectly normal and something that happens every 11 years) to remind us all that electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) are über-dangerous and just around the corner from wiping out all electronics around the world. Especially us (the US). The article is “Sun’s Flipping Poles Could Mean Lights Out for U.S.

Maloof’s latest story is about a vulnerability test:

A vulnerability test by the electric-power industry of the national electrical grid shows the system would fail during certain catastrophes – and would fail even if only some of the impacts of certain catastrophes were experienced.

That is the sobering message from a preliminary readout of the results of a vulnerability test called Grid Ex II.

It revealed that even though the test was done under circumstances that didn’t represent the full impact of what would occur in the event of a grid blackout – caused either by a cyber or electromagnetic pulse attack – the system failed.

The last half of the article is pretty much a copy-paste of stats and fear-mongering that he’s written about before. It’s the second quarter of the article that left me with eyebrows raised, wondering if he knows the basics of what he’s talking about. It’s kinda like you listen to someone talking about various things, you disagree (or even agree) with their spin but accept that their basic facts are true, and then they get to a subject you know about and they’re just 100% wacked-out wrong … and you start to wonder if even the most basic facts they claim were valid.

For example, Maloof wrote: “The sun flips the polarity of its magnetic north and south, causing huge intergalactic geomagnetic storms which can affect the earth’s grid and communications including satellites.”

Hyperbole, perhaps? “Huge intergalactic” ≠ “geomagnetic”. Allow me to explain: “Huge intergalactic” is something that would be driven perhaps by the energy of a supermassive (millions of times the size of the sun) black hole. That has the ability to send jets of material between galaxies. “Geomagnetic” deals with the magnetic field around Earth. The sun, doing what it does every 11 years and flipping magnetic poles, has no effect beyond a few light years (and for those who don’t know, our galaxy is 100,000 light-years across, about 15,000 light-years thick, and the closest galaxies are 10s of millions of light-years away). So, hyperbole? Perhaps, but it got a raised eyebrow.

And then I read, “When [the sun’s magnetic pole flip] happens, cosmic rays (which are high-energy particles) accelerate to nearly the speed of light by supernova explosions and other violent events in the galaxy that could have a major impact on the electrical grid if earth sustained a direct hit.”

I don’t think there’s any way to read that other than (1) sun’s magnetic field flip causes (2) cosmic rays to accelerate to near-c, even though (3) these cosmic rays are created by other violent events like supernovae, implying the sun is triggering those supernovae, so that (4) bad things can happen on Earth.

Perhaps the last part of point #3 is stretching it, but I don’t think the other parts are at all stretching what Maloof wrote. And he’s wrong. Cosmic rays tend to come from high-energy events going on all the time in the galaxy. Yes. And, they hit Earth all the time, as evidence by numerous cosmic ray observing programs (on Earth). The sun’s changing magnetic field could perchance lower protection of Earth a bit, but Earth’s own magnetic field remains the same, and continues to protect us from charged cosmic rays (uncharged cosmic rays – those that are electrically neutral – are unaffected by magnetic fields). I read Maloof’s paragraph and just kinda had a “wha—?” moment.

But, his article, published earlier this week, has 316 ratings with an average of 4.61/5 stars, and it currently has 276 comments. What might one expect from a normal news site for the top comment to be? Perhaps, say, something about how we should write to Congress to get legislation passed requiring that utility companies harden the electric grid against surges? Maybe?

Well, the top-rated comment is by “AmerizonWarrior” with 47 up-votes and 0 down-votes:

obama would jump for joy if americans can’t communicate…oh and to demonstrate how ignorant and stupid liberals can be, let me tell you about a facebook posting on failbook i saw (i’m paraphrasing here):

we need to get rid of daylight savings time…if we didn’t have daylight savings time, the sun wouldn’t be out as long and we wouldn’t have global warming

mmhmm public education at its best right there

Yup, a non sequitur. In fairness, the next three top-rated comments are sorta along those more sane lines. And, the 7th-highest-rated is by “numenorean” with 21 up-votes and 0 down-votes:

“The sun flips the polarity of its magnetic north and south, causing huge ***intergalactic*** geomagnetic storms which can affect the earth’s grid and communications including satellites.”

***Intergalactic*** Really??? LOL! I suggest that the writer look up the word intergalactic. I doubt the Sun does anything on an intergalactic scale.

This article is now completely suspect.

And, honestly, since when does an attempt at selling a book qualify as news.

In defense of their comment, they replied to someone else with: “I know what an EMP is. My point is that 1) attempts to sell books through “news articles” is silly and is getting old rather fast and 2) this article was written by someone who needs a dictionary and/or who thinks the readership is utterly stupid. I like WND. However, “articles” like this one reduce the quality and credibility of the site substantially.”

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