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.
Chosen one of "the recent, most useful publications on hazards and disasters" by the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder (September 2002)
"... [a] fascinating book..."
, September-October 2002
"With the delivery of a fireside chat, Carlowicz and Lopez offer a thorough--and often witty--explanation of the Sun's sometimes surprising impact on Earth, driving their points home with photographs that illustrate the solar system's haunting beauty. ...a useful reference for the curious lay person and a pleasurable daytime read for night-time observers."
, December 2002
"The authors have done an artful job of both educating and entertaining.... The book is likely to appeal both to space scientists and to readers who have a general interest in space science... a lucid history of space science... This history is far more than a timeline of events; it is filled with interesting stories and follows the development of scientific ideas. ... Storms from the Sun
covers a remarkable breadth of material that is presented in an appealing format."
, March 2003
"This compelling book explains the relatively new science of space weather. Dramatic events of the distant and near past illustrate the real and imagined impact of solar activity on human kind. The complexities and mysteries of the workings of our nearest star and its atmosphere are explained for readers from all walks of life."
-- The Planetarian
, March 2003
"...a fascinating story that demonstrates how the Sun, geomagnetism and the aurora all fit into the jigsaw of space weather, what its consequences are for our civilization and how space weather may be monitored just like terrestrial weather systems. As James A. Van Allen says in his foreword to the book, it is to be commended to a wide spectrum of readers."
-- Journal of the British Astronomical Association
"The Sun has finally slipped onto the downslope of solar cycle 23, but in the publishing universe, it's just hitting its peak. Three recent books offer intriguingly different views of the Sun... Storms from the Sun
aims to alert people to the need to understand better the Sun's effect on Earth... Carlowicz and Lopez do a good job of reviewing the state of knowledge."
-- Sky & Telescope
, December 2002
"The authors' intention to write an introduction to an intriguing subject and attempt to show the inter-connection of the Earth and the Sun has been achieved with clarity, after wide research. ...this book provides an enlightening and easily read account of the subject. ... A book to be read by all Earthlings."
-- Popular Astronomy
, January March 2004
"Science writer Michael Carlowicz and space physicist Ramon Lopez make a compelling case for continuing--and expanding--current efforts to understand, monitor and respond to solar outbursts such as flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) in time to protect vulnerable satellites and power grids from multi-million-dollar failures. This should be required reading for engineers and policy makers who deal daily with large-scale communications or electricity systems. ... Fascinating reading for all denizens of spaceship Earth."
, The Editor's Bookshelf
"...a fascinating book..."
, March 2003
"...colorfully written descriptions... 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... The work is clearly aimed at a general audience and is therefore recommended chiefly for public libraries."
-- Library Journal
, June 2002
"...I am delighted to say that Carlowicz and Lopez have provided an accurate and highly readable account of the subject... Indeed, even though I am in the field, I read the book in one go; I could not put it down. They approach a good number of active researchers who are well respected in the field...and this puts a human face on the book. Their coverage is quite complete... They use simple terms, which makes the book readable for most interested readers, not necessarily just those with a scientific background. ... All in all, a job well done and that is said by someone who was initially a skeptic!"
-- The Observatory
, April 2003, reviewed by Richard A. Harrison
"...full of fascinating details on recent developments in understanding space weather."
-- The National Association for Amateur Radio website
"...I enjoyed reading this book and learnt more about space weather and its impact on us and the technology we use. The non-technical style and interviews with many scientists involved in space weather also made the book very easy to read... The book is well-written, and nicely published with a set of colour plates in the middle of the book and black & white pictures throughout. I thus recommend this book..."
-- Peter Meadows, The Astronomer
, October 2002
"...this book examines space weather and storms in a style that is clear and understandable."
-- Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
, September 2002
"...an excellent history and status report about the Sun's impact on our ever-more-networked civilization. ... The authors' explanation of the physics involved is clearly understandable to curious nonscientists. An accessible companion..."
"Storms from the Sun
will give the average reader a good understanding of why today's computer- and electricity-dependant society needs to pay attention to space weather. ... The book's lack of hype is refreshing..."
-- United Press International
, June 7, 2002
"It is written ... in a direct, approachable style that is easily understood by scientists and the interested public alike."
-- NSDL Scout Report
, July 12, 2002
"Although the book is not highly technical, it will nonetheless be useful for scientists, policy-makers, government and industry executives, educators, students, and the public. Even 'old space-weather hands' will be intrigued by the authors' anecdotes and revelations of little-known facts related to their science. ...this book is a prerequisite to an informed citizenry for the 21st century. ...[Storms from the Sun
] deserves a place on the bookshelves of all those interested in the practical applications of science to human civilization. In particular, our political and military leaders would find this work engaging and enlightening."
, August 20, 2002
"...a very readable book with clear, nonmathematical explanations. ... Excellent illustrations; good list of printed references and Web sites. Recommended."
, November 2002
"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
"A must read for weather and science enthusiasts."
-- Lagonline Books and Emporium
"Dry, static fact has been reshuffled and served up with a generous helping of historical record, open discussions of past and present-day theory, and a subtle sprinkling of wit to keep it lively and captivating. Public school educators and parents of home-schooled children, as well as industry leaders, government officials, and anyone with an interest in science and the space around them, will draw many valuable lessons and discussions from the information provided. ... After reading Storms from the Sun
, it is doubtful that anyone will be able to look at the sun the same way again. ... Storms from the Sun
is an electrifying challenge for the mind to decipher the seemingly unfathomable secrets of the sun. The authors should be applauded for their I.E.I. (Insightful Emission of Information). This book will undoubtedly spark interest in space weather among present and ever-emerging generations of scientists, industry and government leaders, and educators."
-- The Midwest Book Review
, March 2003
"...a unique look at the fiery mass of energy, a few millions miles away, which hurls radiated plasma particles en-mass toward the Earth on a daily basis."
-- Missouri Reader
, March 7, 2004