Dark Lightning: Are Airplane Passengers Exposed to Radiation from Intense Bursts of Gamma-Rays from Thunderclouds?
Apr. 10, 2013 — "What are the radiation doses to airplane passengers from the intense bursts of gamma-rays that originate from thunderclouds?" Florida Institute of Technology Department of Physics and Space Science faculty members addressed the issue and presented their terrestrial gamma ray flashes research modeling work at a press conference meeting of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna, Austria, April 10. Joseph Dwyer, Ningyu Liu and Hamid Rassoul discussed a new physics-based model of radiation dose calculations and compared the calculations to previous work.
Scientists have known for almost a decade that thunderstorms are capable of generating brief but powerful bursts of gamma-rays called terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, or TGFs. These flashes of gamma-rays are so bright they can blind instruments many hundreds of kilometers away in outer space. Because they can originate near the same altitudes at which commercial aircraft routinely fly, scientists have been trying to determine whether or not terrestrial gamma ray flashes present a radiation hazard to individuals in aircraft.
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Sources: Florida Institute of Technology Department of Physics and Space Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, ScienceDaily.com .
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