Will the sun knock out my GPS?

The mere idea of having to live without GPS navigation is a tad alarming

My knowledge of astronomy is...well, it's absolutely pitiful. But I have a vested interest in the news that solar flares could cripple GPS systems here on planet earth.

You see, my sense of direction is also pitiful. So the mere idea of having to live without my Mazda3's GPS navigation is a tad alarming. (Yes, I did manage to survive for the first 39 years of my life without GPS--and no, I can't figure out how I managed to do so.)

The GPS-crippling scenario relates to the solar maximum, a heightened period of solar radio bursts. I have no idea what that means. But Space.com's report quotes an alarmed MIT scientist who says that we don't know how often such bursts will happen, or how big they'll be--so I, too, am feeling alarmed. (Apparently, solar flares disrupted GPS back in December--I was lucky enough not to notice.)

The Space.com story and other reports I've seen have been kinda vague as to whether the solar flares would just make GPS a tad wonky for a short period, or whether they might truly take down the system for extended periods. And I do concede that if GPS stops working, there are greater implications for the world at large beyond my personal convenience as I try to find my way around the Bay Area. So I'll just keep my fingers crossed that the nightmare scenario, whatever it is, doesn't actually happen.

And truth to tell, my GPS system--as essential as it's become to my daily life--has been known to send me on wild goose chases, drop me off several miles away from my intended destination, or simply stop working. Mysterious bursts of solar flares are simply one more burden that we GPS owners will have to learn to live with.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Harry McCracken

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?