Anyone who has ever flown on a plane before may have been exposed to gamma rays, according to new scientific findings. Scientists are now saying that dark lightning may be hitting planes when they fly. For those who do not know, dark lightning is pretty much invisible when it is within clouds. However, dark lightning is known to give off gamma rays.
The good news is that scientists do not believe people are at any kind of health risk because of this. These reports state that the amount of gamma rays people are exposed to on a typical flight are enough to be considered dangerous.
This study was made possible by a discovery that was made nearly a decade ago. It was at this time that scientists figured out that thunderstorms actually generate a very brief, but extremely powerful, burst of gamma rays. For those who do not know, gamma rays are the highest-energy that can be made from light. These gamma-ray flashes are so bright that they are actually able to blind sensors that are on satellites hundreds of miles away.
After studying these gamma ray flashes, scientists found out that they are actually occurring at the very same altitude that commercial aircraft fly. This would mean that just about anyone who has flown during thunderstorms may have already been exposed to these gamma rays.
Scientists quickly set out to find if these flashes pose any kind of radiation hazard to passengers who are flying on planes. Over the years, any attempt to discover this has been limited because of scientists’ limited understanding of what actually causes these flashes.
A physicist at the Florida Institute of Technology, Joseph Dwyer, said that they know in great detail how black holes work now. These are located at the centre of galaxies far away from here. However, scientists still do not fully understand thunderclouds that are just a few miles above their heads. It took nearly two-and-a half centuries after Ben Franklin’s discovery just to find out that there was another kind of lightning inside these thunderclouds.
Scientists know that typical lightning arcs from one cloud to another to reduce the voltage that is growing from clouds rubbing together. Dark lightning actually works in the same way, but it is using much higher energy particles. Thus, it actually reduces its voltage far more quickly than what you would find with your typical lightning strike.
After learning all of this, Dwyer and his co-workers were able to analyse just how much radiation passengers on airlines would receive from this. Scientists were able to calculate that the radiation that would be received from a flight at 40,000 feet does not compare to the radiation that would be received from 10 chest X-rays. This would be about the same amount of radiation that people receive over the course of a normal year. Still, people who fly a lot should avoid flying during storms if at all possible. The good news is that dark lightning flashes are far less common than normal lightning strikes.