formulating predictive futures delivering accurate forecasts exploring accurate wisdom crowdsourcing predictive insights delivering accurate predictions mapping the future assembling definitive understanding formulating contingent contingencies mapping intelligent insights assembling accurate estimations computing precise futures delivering predictive predictions composing definitive insights aggregating probable predictions


Metaculus Help: Spread the word

If you like Metaculus, tell your friends! Share this question via Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit.

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.


Metaculus help: Predicting

Predictions are the heart of Metaculus. Predicting is how you contribute to the wisdom of the crowd, and how you earn points and build up your personal Metaculus track record.

The basics of predicting are very simple: move the slider to best match the likelihood of the outcome, and click predict. You can predict as often as you want, and you're encouraged to change your mind when new information becomes available.

The displayed score is split into current points and total points. Current points show how much your prediction is worth now, whereas total points show the combined worth of all of your predictions over the lifetime of the question. The scoring details are available on the FAQ.

Note: this question resolved before its original close time. All of your predictions came after the resolution, so you did not gain (or lose) any points for it.

Note: this question resolved before its original close time. You earned points up until the question resolution, but not afterwards.

This question is not yet open for predictions.

Thanks for predicting!

Your prediction has been recorded anonymously.

Want to track your predictions, earn points, and hone your forecasting skills? Create an account today!

Track your predictions
Continue exploring the site

Community Stats

Metaculus help: Community Stats

Use the community stats to get a better sense of the community consensus (or lack thereof) for this question. Sometimes people have wildly different ideas about the likely outcomes, and sometimes people are in close agreement. There are even times when the community seems very certain of uncertainty, like when everyone agrees that event is only 50% likely to happen.

When you make a prediction, check the community stats to see where you land. If your prediction is an outlier, might there be something you're overlooking that others have seen? Or do you have special insight that others are lacking? Either way, it might be a good idea to join the discussion in the comments.