When a hurricane takes aim at the coast or a blizzard looms in the forecast, something strange comes over us. We swarm into grocery stores, stripping the shelves bare of canned goods and staple foods. Lines stretch all the way around the supermarket, and it’s like Black Friday on the produce aisle, with people arguing…
We all know that major storms can wreak havoc, flooding cities and decimating infrastructure. But there’s an even bigger worry than wind and rain: space weather. If a massive solar storm hit us, our technology would be wiped out. The entire planet could go dark.
Currently, the only route from Earth to the International Space Station for astronauts is by hitching a ride on the Soyuz spacecraft. But what happens if a fire breaks out en route to the station? Without fire extinguishers or normal firefighting tools, astronauts have special procedures to return them safely to Earth.
When hurricane Irene failed to flood Manhattan as predicted over the weekend, many called the evacuation an overreaction to media hype - one local told the New York Times he was "embarrassed." But scientists and civil engineers say the city's response made good sense.