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Funds toward a Solar storm shield begun by 2021?
When a massive solar storm hit the earth in 1859, it produced auroras bright enough to wake Colorado miners and threw sparks off of telegraph wires. Were such a storm to strike today, however, the consequences to our technology-dependent society would be catastrophic. Such storms are the subject of several other questions, particularly this question regarding the frequency of such storms and this one regarding the construction of a satellite warning system.
Two Harvard University professors, Manasvi Lingam and Abraham Loeb, recently estimate the losses at $10 trillion, with a years-long recovery. In contrast to that cost, which is approximately 50 times the cost of NASA's initial efforts to send humans to the moon. Given estimates upward of 1%/year of such a flare, this sort of prospective loss arguably calls for significant spending at risk mitigation.
Beyond warnings or damage minimization, the above paper proposes a somewhat more radical astronomical protection plan. A loop of copper wire with a diameter similar to the Earth's, they say, powered by one terawatt, could create a sufficient magnetic field so as to deflect the energy of a solar storm enough to protect the planet's technology. Placed at the Lagrange point L1, the loop would cost about $100 billion to construct, Lingam and Loeb estimate. (As a fun side-beneit, they investigate how we might look for signs of such shields built by other civilizations out there.)
Will anyone take this idea seriously? We'll ask the following:
By 2021, will a chunk of more than $100,000 USD be spent in pursuit of this idea?
This question will resolve positively given a credible report that a grant, contract, budget line, or some similar allocation of funding equalling $100K or more has been made toward further study of, or designs for, an in-orbit Earth protecting magnetic deflection system. Effective cost of researcher or faculty time does not count, and the description of the allocation must somewhere directly reference Lingam and Loeb.
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