If you were wondering what the drastic decrease in solar activity might mean to you and me, wonder no longer — cosmic rays are hitting Earth at a much higher rate than any time in the last 50 years.
One of the main reason for the decrease in cosmic rays, according to scientists, is the reduced solar wind. Other reasons include the sun's reduced magnetic field, and a flattening out of the solar "heliospheric current sheet," a kind of skirt around the sun that guides cosmic rays. The new level of cosmic rays still isn't as great as they were a couple hundred years ago, but it's still much higher than we're used to. Scientists claim the increase isn't dangerous to us — but that just means they haven't found any danger yet. Time to buy an extra-thick metal umbrella, I think. [NASA via Science Daily]