Science: Irresponsible Ions

When a thoroughgoing magnetic storm gets rolling, there is the devil to pay. Radio and telegraph communications get out of kilter, navigation devices turn unreliable. The reason: great gusts of electrons, blasted loose from the sun by cyclonic sunspots, are overcharging the ionosphere. Effects of this high-level ionization are visible to the human eye in the aurora borealis, seen last fortnight as far south as New York and in Britain's Channel Islands.

Radio waves in the short wave band are peculiarly sensitive to solar conditions. Their normal line of travel is to the ionosphere...

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