New research suggests solar storms could become more disruptive within decades, affecting things from cell phones to airplanes and spacecraft. In BBC News, Judith Burns quotes space physicist Mike Lockwood was saying, "All the evidence suggests that the Sun will shortly exit from a grand solar maximum that has persisted since before the start of the space age.

"In a grand solar maximum, the peaks of the 11-year sunspot cycle are larger and the average number of solar flares and associated events such as coronal mass ejections are greater. On the other hand, in a grand solar minimum there are almost no sunspots for several decades. The last time this happened was during the Maunder Minimum, between about 1650 and 1700." This is also known as the Little Ice Age.

Burns quotes Lockwood as saying, "You can tell by the concentration of nitrates in ice sheets that there has been a solar event. What we showed was that they all cropped up at more middling activity than we have been used to. We used this data to say that an unfortunate combination of solar conditions is coming our way in the next few decades. It’s just a question of how much worse the radiation gets and how long it lasts."

WHO KNOWS what will happen in the future, especially when that dreaded date of December 21, 2012 arrives? Sometimes a novel can tell you more than nonfiction, and Whitley Strieber’s novel "2012" is one of these. You can get it from the Whitley Strieber Collection, and it will come with an autographed bookplate that was designed by Whitley!

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