Is the ‘internet apocalypse’ nigh? Breaking down the solar-storm science.

It sounds like the stuff of sci-fi. Magnetic fields unleashed by a solar superstorm rip through the Earth’s magnetosphere, sending currents surging through human infrastructure. Aurora borealis unusually fill southern skies with shimmering blues and greens. We look up from our phones and computers to catch a glimpse, and the internet as we know it blinks out.

Physically, most of us are fine. But in a matter of hours, we are boomeranged back to the analog era, where the only thing that tweets is the bird outside our window.

The “internet apocalypse,” as it’s called, has recently captured imaginations on social media, prompting quick-spreading misinformation about nonexistent NASA warnings and speculation about what the hyper-online might do with themselves in an offline world. Apocalypse preppers, religious doomsday Redditors and writers have all, at some point, seized on the idea.