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Word Count: 719
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 US 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 010100 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 doesnt fail or it
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