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Yesterday, a massive solar prominence in the shape of a bucking bronco erupted from the sun. This mind-bogglingly huge explosion sent a coronal mass ejection hurtling toward Earth's magnetosphere. It should be delivering a "glancing blow" sometime around Saturday.

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This is bad.

Okay, it's probably not bad, and if you live in Finland, it could be really pretty.

But one day, maybe in 2012 (Just like the Mayans predicted! Sort of!), it could be really, really bad. According to a report released last year, a period of intense solar activity in 2012 coinciding with an "unusually large hole in Earth's geomagnetic shield" could be curtains.

Entitled "Severe Space Weather Events — Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts," [the report] describes the consequences of solar flares unleashing waves of energy that could disrupt Earth’s magnetic field, overwhelming high-voltage transformers with vast electrical currents and short-circuiting energy grids. Such a catastrophe would cost the United States "$1 trillion to $2 trillion in the first year," concluded the panel, and "full recovery could take 4 to 10 years." That would, of course, be just a fraction of global damages.

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via boingboing