The Met Office now has a team of space weather advisors, monitoring and forecasting potential disruption to the UK due to extra terrestrial events. By this, I mean the possible disruption to the technologies and infrastructure we all now heavily depend upon, including communications systems, power networks, satellite services like GPS, and the aviation industry.
You know the situation well. You sit down with some close friends, enjoying a good conversation for a few minutes. Then someone checks their phone. You see another friend pick up hers, then another friend follows suit and, in a moment, they are all silent; transfixed by the screens in front of them.
If you were asked to draw a scientist, what would it look like? An image resembling Einstein, perhaps? Same question; but this time an engineer. Would you draw a man with a spanner? And would a computer scientist look like a guy who's keen on science fiction and junk food, working alone in a dark room?
Next time you're in your local pharmacy, take a detour to the men's shaving aisle. When you get there, scan the shelves in front of you. You'll see high-gloss packaging, lots of "Fusion" and "Turbo" and "Mach" brands. It's almost like you're in the Formula 1 pit lane, isn't it? The choice seems abundant.
We've all faced 'feature creep' - the often overwhelming new choices and functions of our shiny new technology that can baffle, confound and occasionally distress us. But not all technology or innovations needs to perplex us. Sometimes we smack our foreheads and say "wow, I never even knew I needed this, but it will change my life."