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Storms From The Sun: The Emerging Science Of Space Weather

by Michael J. Carlowicz And Ramon E. Lopez

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From Library Journal
Science writer and education specialist Carlowicz (NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr.) and physicist Lopez (Univ. of Texas, El Paso) here address "space storms," or the sporadically intense emission of subatomic particles and electromagnetic radiation by the sun. They also discuss the effects of such emission on the earth, its human inhabitants, and its near-space environment. The authors provide colorfully written descriptions of major solar storm disruptions of communications satellites, power grids, and all the technological gadgets dependent on them. They note that for most of human history the only detectable manifestation of "space storms" was the auroras; now, our civilization is often perturbed by invisible but powerful blasts from the sun. The book also contains some discussion of the basic science behind the space storms, but this plays second fiddle to dramatic renditions of the storms' effects on people. There is much of interest here, although the material could have been better organized. The work is clearly aimed at a general audience and is therefore recommended chiefly for public libraries. Jack W. Weigel, Ann Arbor, MI
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Since the invention of the telegraph, operators of communications technologies have noted that the Sun somehow disrupts their systems, while scientists have investigated how the Sun wreaks such havoc. At this intersection of practical concerns and pure research lies this excellent history and status report about the Sun's impact on our ever-more-networked civilization. Written by a science writer (Carlowicz) and a scientist of space weather (Lopez), the work swings from recounting the serious damage inflicted on satellites and power grids by solar storms to relaying the principal discoveries of the Sun's effects on the earth's near-space environment. The authors describe early experiments that established a basic model for space weather, a magnetic "cavity" surrounding the earth that is incessantly buffeted by the Sun's magnetic field. The latter intensifies phenomenally when a "coronal mass ejection" carries plasma and magnetism to the neighborhood. The authors' explanation of the physics involved is clearly understandable to curious nonscientists. An accessible companion to Jay Pasachoff and Leon Golub's Nearest Star [BKL Mr 1 01]. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Popular Astronomy, January-March 2004
"...an enlightening and easily read account of the subject. ... A book to be read by all Earthlings."

Missouri Reader, March 7, 2004
"...a unique look at the fiery mass of energy, a few millions miles away..."

NSDL Scout Report, July 12, 2002
"It is written ... in a direct, approachable style that is easily understood by scientists and the interested public alike."

Lagonline Books and Emporium
"A must read for weather and science enthusiasts."

Eos, August 20, 2002
"...deserves a place on the bookshelves of all those interested in the practical applications of science to human civilization."

CHOICE, November 2002
"...a very readable book with clear, nonmathematical explanations. ... Excellent illustrations; good list of printed references and Web sites. Recommended."

The Midwest Book Review, March 2003
"...an electrifying challenge for the mind to decipher the seemingly unfathomable secrets of the sun."

The National Association for Amateur Radio website
"...full of fascinating details on recent developments in understanding space weather."

Peter Meadows, The Astronomer, October 2002
"The non-technical style and interviews with many scientists made the book very easy to read ... well-written..."

Focus, March 2003
"...a fascinating book..."

Book Description
From the casual conversation starter to the 24-hour cable channels and Web sites devoted exclusively to the subject, everyone talks about weather. There’s even weather in space—and it’s causing major upsets to our modern technological world.

Space weather is all around us. There are no nightly news reports on space weather (yet), but we’re rapidly developing the tools necessary to measure and observe trends in cosmic meteorology. New probes are going on-line that help us monitor the weather taking place miles above the Earth.

But why does space weather matter? It doesn’t affect whether we bring an umbrella to work or require us to monitor early school closings. It’s far, far away and of little concern to us . . . right? March 13, 1989. The Department of Defense tracking system that keeps tabs on 8,000 objects orbiting Earth suddenly loses track of 1,300 of them. In New Jersey, a $10 million transformer is burned up by a surge of extra current in the power lines. Shocks to a power station in Quebec leave 6 million people without electricity. New England power stations struggle to keep their power grid up. Listeners tuning in to their local stations in Minnesota hear the broadcasts of the California Highway Patrol. Residents of Florida, Mexico, and the Grand Cayman Islands see glowing curtains of light in the sky.

All of these bizarre, and seemingly unconnected, events were caused by a storm on the Sun and a fire in the sky. A series of solar flares and explosions had launched bolts of hot, electrified gas at the Earth and stirred up the second largest magnetic storm in recorded history. Before rockets and radio and the advent of other modern devices, we probably would never have noticed the effects of this space storm. But in today’s electrically powered, space-faring world, the greatest space storm of the twenty-second solar maximum rang like a wake-up call.

And we are now in the midst of another solar maximum, the effects of which are expected to be felt all the way through the year 2004. Storms from the Sun explores the emerging physical science of space weather and traces its increasing impact on a society that relies on space-based technologies.

Authors Carlowicz and Lopez explain what space weather really means to us down here—and what it may mean for future explorations and colonization of distant worlds. By translating the findings of NASA and other top scientists into fascinating and accessible descriptions of the latest discoveries, we are privy to some of the most closely held secrets that the solar–terrestrial system has to offer.

Book Info
Explores the emerging physical science and space weather and traces its increasing impact on a society that relies on space-based technologies. Authors explain what space weather really means to us down here-and what it may mean for future explorations and colonization of distant worlds.

From the Inside Flap
"Storms from the Sun is a remarkably thorough examination of how space affects our planet in myriad ways. As our technology becomes more complex and pervasive, we are finding that solar storms are playing an ever more prominent role in influencing human actions and events. Thanks to Messrs. Carlowicz and Lopez, readers now have a fascinating and authoritative glimpse into the world of solar weather." -- Dr. Richard P. Hallion, US Air Force Historian

"Ten years ago, almost no one had heard of 'space weather.' Now, few of us in the developed world can escape its influence. And no one writes about it with greater flair and clarity than Michael Carlowicz and Ramon Lopez." -- Stephen P. Maran, author, Astronomy for Dummies ® and editor, The Astronomy and Space Science Encyclopedia

"A skillful combination of scientific discovery, natural events, and human history... Carlowicz and Lopez present a compelling argument for treating solar weather as more than an 'academic exercise.' Radiation belts have jumped from the textbook to our daily conversation, and for good reason!" -- John Scala, Storm Analyst, The Weather Channel

About the Author
Michael J. Carlowicz is a science writer and education specialist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. He also teaches nonfiction and science writing at the Johns Hopkins University. He received his B.A. from Georgetown University and an M.A. in science writing from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.

Ramon E. Lopez is the C. Sharp Cook Distinguished Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Texas at El Paso. He received his B.S. degree in Physics from the University of Illinois, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Space Physics from Rice University.



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