The most recent XKCD proposes an interesting astrophysical scenario. It deals with something I've mentioned a few times on this blog before: Solar flares. If you haven't seen it, here's the comic:
Yeah right. A solar flare indenting the magnetic field to such an extent that the Earth's rotation causes an induced current in electrical cords.
No way that could happen.
Except that it did.
In 1859, a solar flare so powerful occurred that it shorted out telegraph wires causing fires on the desks of the operators in the US and Europe. In addition, it reduced the amount of atmospheric ozone by about 5% (Note to global warming deniers: This would only be a short term effect and human made ozone depletion is long term since CFCs don't readily leave the atmosphere).
So, amazingly this myth was confirmed nearly 150 years ago! So can I have Kari Byron do a guest post now?
B. C. Thomas, C. H. Jackman, A. L. Melott (2007). Modeling atmospheric effects of the September 1859 solar flare Geophysical Research Letters, 34 (6) DOI: 10.1029/2006GL029174