This morning began like any other. I awoke to the familiar tap of my pet macaw Wilbur's beak on my forehead. Once roused, I mounted my human-powered "blendercycle" and made my customary wheatgrass shake, which I then poured into a bowl of Froot Loops. Sitting down with my breakfast and a big glass of Mello Yello, I switched on my computer and saw a headline that caused me to coat my monitor with a rainbow-hued spray of masticated cereal:
"More Active Sun Means Nasty Solar Storms Ahead," it announced.
Indeed, while millions of barrels of oil pour into the Gulf of Mexico, it would seem that our trusted sun intends to pre-empt BP by laying waste to the Earth. The message from everybody's favorite life-giving star is clear: "If anyone's going to destroy humanity around here, it's going to be me."
Fortunately for us, "top sun scientists met Tuesday." After making a bunch of inside solar-themed jokes in order to break (or, more accurately, melt) the ice, they discussed "the best ways to protect Earth's satellites and other vital systems from the coming solar storms." As far as how to protect Earth's humans from the coming solar storms, presumably the subject never came up. Maybe they should team up with BP, who seem to have a talent for slathering the Earth with unctuous substances. If they can do with SPF 50 what they're doing with 10W30, perhaps we will all be spared.
On closer inspection, though, it could be that this whole solar freakout isn't such a bad thing. Apparently, "smart power grids, GPS navigation, air travel, financial services and emergency radio communications can all be knocked out by intense solar activity." I'm assuming technology like cellphones will also be disrupted. I use my cellphone as much as anybody, and I get as annoyed as anybody when mine doesn't work, but I think if all of our cellphones stopped working at once, it would be more of a reprieve than an inconvenience. After all, humanity got along just fine without all this technology — apart from the regional wars, world wars, genocide, disease, colonization, tyranny, and subjugation. Still, at least when you were in the hold of a slave ship, being forced to help build a pyramid, or hanging from a crucifix, the guy next to you wasn't yammering away on his cell.
But the big winners here are the editors at Space.com, who broke this story. If you told somebody back in 1969 (the year man first landed on the Moon) that in 2010 there would be this thing called the Internet, and a website called Space.com, they would imagine it to be filled with fascinating stories: "Superbowl XLIV to Take Place in the Sea of Tranquility"; "Martian Condominiums Now Open"; "Humans and Andromedians Celebrate 20 Years of Peaceful Coexistence." Instead, nothing interesting has happened in space since then, and Space.com now runs stories like "No Culprit Found in NASA Cocaine Investigation" and "Man Accused of Stealing Sally Ride's Flight Suit." Given this, the solar freakout is nothing less than a godsend.
Meanwhile, in other science news, archaeologists found a really old shoe in Armenia. Fortunately, it wasn't a sandal boot.