Summary: A Japanese scientist, Fusa Miyake, discovered that cosmic ray storms (caused by solar flares or other celestial events) lead to a sudden spike in Carbon-14 which can be found in tree rings. These tree rings can be very precisely dated by what is now called “Miyake events.” That’s a great benefit to archaeology because ancient structures are often built with wood which can now be dated. Very cool.
How is this related to Macroeconomics?
The largest solar storm to hit our planet in recorded history was the Carrington Event from 1–2 September 1859. Telegraph stations caught fire as transmission wires sizzled under a barrage of electrons. A Carrington Event today would fry satellites (including GPS) and the electric power grid.
BUT… Carbon-14 records in tree rings from 1859 show virtually no upticks — nothing approaching the massive spike caused by Miyake events.
“The grave consequences have scientists trying to discern whether past Miyake events follow a pattern or cycle, or whether a future event would blindside us. “The goal is to try and understand the frequency and severity of these events with a view to actually do some kind of risk assessment,” says physicist Andrew Smith of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. That includes working out how to better shield people and equipment on Earth and in space. “Obviously, a big [Miyake] event today would be a disaster,” Smith says. “All of our tech would be in a smoking heap overnight.””
Short of a massive asteroid strike, this would be the ultimate Black Swan for our modern economy.