23 May 2006

Our radioactive world blinks

While searching for the origin of atmnospheric Gamma radiation, researchers looked high, where gamma radiation stood a chance of surviving long enough to have an effect but Real Life was — as it often is — a little different: the Gamma rays were being formed within a few kilometers of the ground — or in other words, down near us.

The original search was for Gamma emissions triggered by lightning, but to the researchers’ surprise, it turns out to be the other way around: Gamma radiation is causing lightning. The consequences of this haven’t yet been worked out, but I guess that a means for predicting and/or neutralising dangerous discharges of lightning and/or radiation will eventuate.

Generally, it sounds like debugging software: Real Life is typically stranger than fiction. (-:

1 comment:

Leon Brooks said...

By the way, the near-light-speed phrases in the article call to mind just how, um, lightning fast those flashes can be.

Is the lightning having an internal flow-pileup? Are its electrostatic &/| magnetic fields holding atoms still until they get pummelled into Gamma-ness? What else could be happening?