Solar Storm Brings Apocalypse
by Jeff Provine
says: we're very pleased to present a new story from Jeff Provine's
excellent blog This
Day in Alternate History Please note that the opinions expressed in this
post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
By September 2nd 1859,
even with the grand instruments of their day, the scientists of Old could
barely describe the Charge that wiped out much of life on Earth. According
to papers scavenged in Old libraries and laboratories, the Charge was a
"geomagnetic storm" that started on August 28.
Most of the world saw the beginning of the Charge as a thing of beauty.
The auroras shone brightly, almost to be seen by day in the north. At
night, they shone as far south as America, Japan, and even to the
Caribbean. Many people thought it was early dawn, but Kew Observatory's
magnetograph recorded that something was tampering with the magnetic
fields of Earth.
"I think I saw that episode. Dr. Miguelito Loveless
did it so he could be king of the survivors" - reader's commentPapers
from a man called Richard Carrington suggested that it was the Sun that
caused the Charge, spitting off a kind of "solar flare", an enormous arch
of fire that flew out of our star and toward the Earth. He had watched as
sunspots and smaller flares boiled from the angry core. Even a great mind
like his did not know why.
Telegraph systems were the messengers of our doom. Sparks began to leap
from wires and pylons, shooting electricity where there should have been
none. Machines became so hot that paper caught fire around them. Even when
disconnected, telegraphs typed out nonsense messages, almost as if they
"Okay, civilization came to an end. At least the
eco-nuts would be happy... " - reader's commentSurvivors of the
Charge say that they felt the air become prickly with static electricity.
The sky began to turn red, and the day became hotter than imaginable.
People took shelter underground, but only those deep enough in ravines and
mines would survive. Judging from census records that escaped the fires of
the Charge, some 99% of the human race was dead by the third of September.
Humanity reemerged around mining centers such as California, West Virginia
& Pennsylvania, the North of England, Germany, South Africa, China, and
Chile. Over the past 150 years, we have repopulated, but few imagine a day
when we will match the greatness of civilization, technology, and learning
like the Days of Old. For now, as it has been since the Charge, we
continue to scavenge what resources we can from Old and feed ourselves
with what remains of Mother Nature.
says in reality, the Carrington Event of 1859 did not destroy life on
Earth, though it could have, and did in fact disrupt telegraphy for a few
days. Another storm in 1989 knocked out power grids and jammed radio
signals, which led NASA and the European Space Agency to jointly launch the
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. Even with our knowledge of solar
activity today, we do not understand the many facets of solar weather. A
storm such as these could happen with little warning, and, despite our
impressive technology, there is nothing we could do to stop it.
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Jeff Provine, Guest Historian of
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