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Could solar flare be new millennium bug headache?

We survived the Millennium Bug. But could the solar flare — scheduled for 2012 or 2013, depending on who you speak to — mean the end of the world as we know it?

Some scientists have predicted something close to the apocalypse when the sun rises on December 21, 2012.

They expect abnormal activity on the sun to result in a massive solar flare that could cause global chaos, including blackouts.

And they say, it could also wreck satellites, crash power grids, ground planes and completely shut down the internet.

However, other boffins fear it will erupt a little later, in 2013.

Whatever the date, the freak incident could mirror the ‘Carrington Event’ of 1859, which wreaked horrendous damage across Europe and America, burning out telegraph wires across both continents.

Not all scientists agree and Armagh Observatory director Mark Bailey told the Belfast Telegraph: “There is no question of any astronomer being able to predict a large solar flare event in 2012 or any other year.

“On the basis that one such event occurred around 100 years ago, then it is arguable that another of similar size might take place within another approximately 100 years.”

Nasa has warned a peak in the sun’s magnetic energy cycle and the number of sun spots or flares around 2013 could generate huge radiation levels, prompting the phenomenon.

And speaking at an international conference on Monday, Defence Secretary Liam Fox referred to the vulnerability of electricity grids and he said the dependency of modern societies on technology leaves them susceptible to events that could knock them out.

Belfast Telegraph