“In a massive solar storm, which would be hugely damaging to a modern economy’s infrastructure, the blockchain parts might well be the only parts that survive.” — Jason Potts
What was the Carrington Event?
In a November 1859 meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society, British astronomer Richard Christopher Carrington reported to the esteemed scientific body that “in the forenoon of Thursday, Sept. 1, in taking my customary observation of the forms and positions of the solar spots, an appearance was witnessed which I believe to be exceedingly rare.”
The phenomenon caused brilliant auroras across the globe, some as far south as Cuba, that were so bright observers were able to read newspapers by their light at night.
Carrington Event model. Source: NASA
It was the most intense geomagnetic storm in recorded history, likely the result of a coronal mass ejection from the sun colliding with the Earth’s magnetosphere — and one with worrying implications for the cryptocurrency industry were it to happen again today. A storm of such intensity would have the potential to affect the majority of electrical systems in use today: satellites, internet service providers, power supplies and all forms of communication.
The geomagnetic disturbances were so strong that telegraph operators in the United States reported sparks leaping from their equipment, which in some cases even caught fire. Telegraph systems across Europe and North America failed.
A close-up of an erupting prominence with Earth inset at the approximate scale of the image. Taken on July 1, 2002. Source: ESA and NASA-SOHO
Similar events were seen throughout the 20th century. In 1921, a solar storm was broadly observed in and around New York City in the United States. The electrical disturbances knocked out the signal and switching operations of the commuter rail system, blowing fuses and setting the signal tower of Grand Central Terminal on fire. Telegraph wires crackled as communications ground to a halt.
And in 1989,…