Y2k 7 Essay, Research Paper
There is concern that our society might fail at or near the turn of the century. Everything and anything today depends on computerized interactions. The scariest scenarios involve the North American power grid. This grid virtually controls all the complex systems that deliver power to every home, office, and factory in the U.S. Among these are millions of interdependent components. These consist of transformers, power plants, transmission lines, and substations. The grid became too complex for people to manage a long time ago. Computers have been running the system for decades. Experts are expecting the power grid scenario to play out like this:
NRC will force nuclear power plants to shut down days or hours in advance for safety reasons. The US will loose nearly 20% of its capacity when this happens. The system has very little reserve capacity, and will be under tremendous stress. Rolling blackouts may begin at this point. Then the clocks in all computers will roll over 01/01/00. At this point, failures may begin to occur in many different systems, just one of which is maintenance. Computers in charge of scheduling maintenance will subtract the new date from the last date maintenance was performed, and come to the conclusion that no maintenance has been done for 99 years! This is clearly a safety violation. The computers will order turbines, boilers, generators, and other equipment to shutdown. One by one power plants will trip off line. Thousands of embedded controllers will add to the chaos by sounding false alarms and displaying incorrect information. As plants go off line, the system will be stressed to the breaking point. A cascading failure will take down the entire grid. The wildly fluctuating loads will trip off even plants that are still on line. Then the lights will go out everywhere.
The power grid is the most important system because without it, everything will stop. Even if the power grid doesn t fail or it is brought up quickly, lots of other important systems could fail. The possible systems are our railroads and our telephone network. Trains bring in bulk goods that are transported into this country. Trains carry even the fuel for our power plants. Another important system is our phone networks. The telephone system is like one gigantic computer network. On these days, everything is digital and carried by fiber optics. When you talk into a phone, your voice is digitized and sent to computers over fiber optics, microwaves and satellite links. Computers also control the links. That only makes it more unpredictable about what will really happen at the turn of the century.
Water is also an important necessity that we need. Computers also control the water system. We cannot survive without water first of all. If water is not obtainable, massive panic will spread. Just think, what will a person do is he/she cannot find water? The thoughts are endless.
The banking system is one important issue too. The U.S. economy depends on its national banking system for its economy. If every loose faith in their bank, then massive withdrawals would be made. Therefore collapsing the banks cash flow and reserves. The FIDC only insures customers up to $100,000. What happen if the banks really did fail? The government stopped burning money and has been hitting the presses to mint new and more currencies just in case.
Many do feel that the Y2K scenario is just a scare or even a hoax. One can come to that conclusion very simply. If this is such a big problem, why aren t any high authorities doing anything about it? Why aren t we taught how to prepare to the new millineum through schools or even on TV? The president of the United States has never made it a public concern. Then why should we? Banks are prepared for over 5 years because of Y2K mandatory legislature made. Everything public works and government agencies have been developing and testing Y2K counter softwares. We must keep in mind that it is he human mind that created these computers and it will be the human minds that will fix this problem. And like any other problem, it will be fixed. We are smarter today then we were 20 years ago. So many new technological advances have been developed to counter the Y2K bug.