A while ago, NASA scientists reported something pretty frightening and maybe a bit too movie-like to even sound remotely true: our own sun could have a temper tantrum that would unleash a tsunami of radiation from outer space, potentially wiping out our space satellites, power lines and leaving entire continents without power.
A disasters of this size may seem hard to believe, but the reality is, that every eleven years the sun flips to its magnetic field (North becomes South and South becomes North) and releases a burst of radiation directed toward outer space, including Earth, and that this burst could eventually endanger most of our communication systems.
Thus, if this scenario turns out to be true, it would mean that our refrigerators and freezers wouldn't have any electricity and communication systems and power systems worldwide could be wiped out for months.
In a way, space age is still relatively young; we've only had a few of these sunspot cycles to worry about, and for the bigger part we missed out on most of the radiation that has been emitted over previous cycles.
Yet, in 1859 there was a solar storm which paralyzed telegraph wires and had been the largest geomagnetic storm in recorded history. Back then, luckily, they only had a telegraph system, and telegram wires were crafted strongly. If that solar storm of 1859 were to hit us today it would cause (according to the report) trillions of dollars in property damage and hundreds of billions of dollars in damage for each of the countries that were affected. Gone too would be the satellites controlling most of our luxuries today, including communication, television, radio, and the Internet where you are reading this very blog.
So when might this whole thing happen? Right: the year 2012, the next peaking of our sun’s solar cycle. The report, however, is careful to say that this may in fact not happen. It's inevitable, however, that at some time or another it will happen again.
If you want to make decisions based off what could actually happen, listen to Michio Kaku, a child prodigy who's become one of the greatest minds of our time. He's a top physicist at City University of New York who has picked up where Albert Einstein left off.
Kaku wrote the book "Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100" and in the book he talks to hundreds of other scientists to piece together what our life will look like in the next century.
On American Morning, Kaku joins Ali Velshi to shares a glimpse at what's possible at the end of 2012, check out the video below.