Scientists are warning that the new millennium could be accompanied by damage and disaster on planet Earth. Space craft and communications satellites could be wiped out and power supplies to major cities could be cut off. There could even be adverse effects on the weather and human health.
These millennial predictions of woe are not coming from superstitious doom-mongers but from physicists - the source of their anxiety is 93 million miles away - on the surface of the Sun.
Research by solar physicists has revealed that disturbances on the Sun cause vast clouds of solar material to be thrown out into space. These clouds contain billions of tons of charged particles which have been stripped from their atoms in the Sun’s 2,000,000oC inferno - and contain enough energy to boil a small ocean.
When one of these sun storms hits Earth, it can wreak havoc with the delicate array of satellites which circle the planet - and on which we now depend for basic services like television, telephone, banking and navigation - as well as scientific and military information. Violent sun storms can provoke enormous fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field and cause widespread power cuts - as they did a few years ago in Canada when the whole of Quebec lost its power.
Director: Dan Chambers
Producer: Robert Eagle
Camera: Mike Coles
Graphics: Liquid Television