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Science

Large Storms On Earth Are Particle Accelerators 166

Posted by timothy
from the you-bet-they-are dept.
MondoMor writes "Apparently, the atmosphere above Earth's strongest storms acts like a particle accelerator, according to a UC Santa Cruz paper. TGFs (Terrestrial Gamma ray Flashes) may occur as seldom as 50 times a day, 'but the rate could be up to 100 times higher if, as some models indicate, TGFs are emitted as narrowly focused beams that would only be detected when the satellite is directly in their path.' I'm glad the gamma-ray bursts are directed into space."
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Large Storms On Earth Are Particle Accelerators

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:00PM (#11731346)
    I'm glad the gamma-ray bursts are directed into space."

    Why? If they weren't, we'd long ago have evolved some method of dealing with it. Either that or we wouldn't be here to worry about it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:26PM (#11731479)
    I'm glad we don't live in the ocean. It's not that we'd drown... we'd have evolved flippers and a way to breathe or hold or breath for a long time.

    Fire might be tricky, though.

    Similarly, the gamma ray bursts would make having an electronic society very difficult.

    Of course, we might find something even better from it... it might be a nice night time energy source, once we'd dealt with the shielding issue. Who knows? This is one of the things I like the way it is.
  • Re:Silly comment (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Alchemar (720449) on Sunday February 20, 2005 @08:39PM (#11731546)
    Ummm ... We've had thundersorms for billions of years, and presumably these lightning strikes as well. They are completely natural phenomena. If they could negatively affect us, we would have either evolved a method for coping millions of years ago, or we wouldn't even exit today.

    Sorry about being a bit to sarcastic, but I couldn't resist.

    Natural selection works more on what is slightly harmful to an entire species, not what is extremely harmful to a few random individuals. Even if the gamma rays did point strait down, we would be wondering why there was an occasional case of natural combustion, not the extiction of the human race.
  • Re:A fingerprint? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grumpygrodyguy (603716) on Monday February 21, 2005 @05:55AM (#11734481)
    It would be interesting to see if these bursts act as a fingerprint of the planet that produces them. Perhaps they could be used to identify other planets with Earth-like atmospheres (or just planets in general...)?

    Good idea, but completely impractical.

    Not to insult everyone, but the fact this is modded to 5 shows how low the general physics knowledge of the slashdot readership is.

    Astronomy is about gathering photons, and that's pretty much it. The more photons, the 'brighter' the source and more easy it is to detect from a greater distance. The number of gamma ray 'photons' produced by a terrestrial storm would probably be undetectable from the distance to our moon, much less from another solar system in our galaxy.

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