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Solar flares to disrupt GPS for several hours in 2011 or 2012

Cyrus Farivar
September 28, 2006
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Ok GPS fans, we're prepping you early for what could be a moment of pretty severe inconvenience in the not so distant future. Brace yourself, because in roughly five to six years, your beloved handheld devices won't work for several hours due to solar flare activity (sound familiar?). According to new Cornell University research, solar flares negatively affect GPS devices, based on observations of stellar phenomena in September of last year. In 2011 or 2012, when the sun reaches its next solar maximum, scientists expect it to cause a 90 percent GPS signal drop for several hours. While most of us will walk around, oblivious to these space fireworks, Alessandro Cerruti (pictured on the left), a Cornell graduate student who studies solar flare effects, envisions this horrific day as a "nightmare situation," given that all planes will likely have GPS signaling by that time. However, given these harbingers of doom, Dr. Paul Kinter (pictured on the right), Cerruti's advisor, has a brilliant solution: "I think the best remedy is to be aware of the problem and operate GPS systems with the knowledge that they may fail during a solar flare." See, it's just that easy, people.

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