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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, April 14, 2024

Ask Mr. Scientist: Solar flares and cell phones


Dear Mr. Scientist,

I heard that solar flares can make my cell phone stop working. Is that true?

—Molly P.

It is true that solar flares can disrupt communications, but they probably won’t affect your cell phone. Solar flares produce a lot of radiation, including X-ray and UV radiation that can potentially cut off radio signals. However, a cell phone tower would have to be in the same direction (from you) as the Sun in order for your call to be affected. On the other hand, any device using a GPS signal faces a larger risk of being affected because solar flare radiation can disrupt signals from GPS satellites.

This week's Ask Mr. Scientist answer was provided by guest-writer Matthew Kleist. If you have a burning science question for Mr. Scientist, tweet it to @DC_Science or e-mail it to

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