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Expert: Solar Flare Will Cause Massive Blackout Within 20 Years

Expert Corey Powell, who is also the editor at large of Discovery Magazine, told Bill Hemmer on Tuesday's America's Newsroom that there's something that keeps him up at night. What could that be, you ask? Well, it's a massive solar storm that he says will hit Earth within the next 10 to 20 years ... and cause a nationwide blackout.

"We're going to survive it, but imagine - hospitals blacked out [...] all your computers, all your smart phones shut down," he said. "Yeah, it does really worry me."

But there's a solar storm set to erupt here even sooner that could still cause some chaos, with some estimating possible fallout damage at about $2 trillion.

Powell explained that the sun goes through an 11-year cycle of being quiet, then violent ... and 2013 is the peak of that cycle. "As we get more satellites ... and depend more on our electrical infrastructure, we're more vulnerable," he said of why damage from such storms will only increase as time goes by.

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  • In such a storm, million-degree plasma shoots out from the sun at 300 to 500 minutes per second. It then travels through space, hits the Earth - which is magnetized - and wreaks havoc by knocking out signals and so on.

    The last major solar storm hit in 1859, a time in which their was only a fraction of the technology we live with and rely on today. And, it's only a matter of time before it happens again; Powell said such major storms occur in 300 year cycles, generally.

    "It could happen 100 years from now, it could happen tomorrow," he said, adding that with today's technology, we would see a potential global blackout.

    "The one we're looking at right now is not so bad," said Powell. "The one in 1859 was 100 times that ... and that one was so intense that telegraphs around the world were sparking and setting off fires."

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