March 25

(UPI) — The Summer Olympics could be crippled by a solar storm far more potent than the one currently wearing away at Earth’s magnetic field, a British physicist said.

“We have the potential this year to see what planners call a Black Swan event — one that is unlikely but if it happens will have an extraordinary impact on our lives,” Alan Woodward, a physicist and computer scientist at England’s University of Surrey, told the British newspaper The Guardian.

Radiation from the superfast bombardment of highly charged clouds of solar energy would likely pose little or no health risk. But it could disable computers and other electronics critical to the Olympic Games, which take place in London July 27 through Aug. 12, Woodward said.

“As the 2012 Olympics approach, we have a convergence of an event that is the most connected, computer-intensive event ever with a record level of sunspot activity, which typically leads to solar flares,” he said.

Solar flares are colossal releases of energy rocketed out into space that have been measured to be the equivalent of as much as 160 billion megatons of TNT.

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