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Space Science

Cosmic Ray Intensity Reaches Highest Levels In 50 years 263

An anonymous reader writes "A NASA probe found that cosmic ray intensities in 2009 had increased by almost 20 percent beyond anything seen in the past 50 years. Such cosmic rays arise from distant supernova explosions and consist mostly of protons and heavier subatomic particles — just one cosmic ray could disable unlucky satellites or even put a mission to Mars in jeopardy."
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Cosmic Ray Intensity Reaches Highest Levels In 50 years

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  • Clinton's fault (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @10:22PM (#29601227)

    Bush did the best he could with the hand he was dealt.

  • Re:Use ECC Memory (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Timothy Brownawell ( 627747 ) <tbrownaw@prjek.net> on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @10:55PM (#29601433) Homepage Journal

    I guess now would be a good time to use ECC RAM in consumer PCs and not just servers anymore.

    Note that Intel are a bunch of $^@#! and try to segment the market by disabling this on their desktop processors. I've been trying to decide whether getting ECC might just be worth taking the 30% (or whatever it is at your favored price point) performance hit of going with AMD.

  • Re:global cooling (Score:4, Interesting)

    by digitalunity ( 19107 ) <digitalunity AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @10:58PM (#29601451) Homepage

    Terrible plan. When the next sun cycle starts and the cloud cover is gone, global warming will hit us like a train.

    Better idea is to use geothermal heating to keep us all warm during an ice age. The technology exists today but there is no reason to use it while energy is cheap. A period of rapid global cooling would cause energy prices to skyrocket as electric, gas, oil and wood furnaces blaze to keep people warm. The coal plants will roar ahead like nothing is wrong, wind and solar won't be doing very well but that's ok - they dont make up much of the grid right now anyway.

    If global cooling became a real problem, food shortage would actually be the most serious impediment to our survival. Extra rain would be good, but the reduced sunlight would hurt crops catastrophically and the average surface temperature really doesn't need to go down that much for crops to be impacted.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @11:44PM (#29601721)

    The car analogy should more properly compare the increase in non-relativistic Kinetic Energy. KE=0.5 m v^2, so it should be an increase of sqrt(10^17), which is about 3 x 10^8 (also amusingly the speed of light in S.I. units).

    like the difference between being hit by a car going 1mph and one going 300'000'000mph?

  • by somepunk ( 720296 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @12:25AM (#29601885) Homepage
    That's the most extreme upper limit. Only a handful of these extremem events [fourmilab.ch] have been recorded. Furthermore, cosmic rays (like particles from solar wind) almost never impact you directly, unless you're in space. They interact with the atmosphere, creating showers of particles, which spread the energy over a large area. I'm not going to do the math now, but the useful figure for effecting electronics might be per square cm per year, at ground level. Most of the cross section of your computer wouldn't notice much if some ionizing radiation passed through it. The CPU and major chips are a pretty small portion of total area. The magnetic domains on your disk platters are probably large enough to be unaffected.
  • Re:*rimshot* (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lordholm ( 649770 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @01:40AM (#29602249) Homepage

    Yes, sort of for one single bit. The last numbers I saw where something like one bit-flip per gigabyte-month RAM. So while the probability of flipping one specific bit is astronomical, it adds up pretty quickly...

  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @01:47AM (#29602287) Journal

    Mars doesn't have a pervasive biosphere because we haven't rehabilitated it yet. On a global level there's little difference in difficulty level between rehabiltating Mars and rehabilitating Earth. On Mars opposing ventures aren't going to counteract your efforts. Martian climate is about that of antarctica, and the establishment of a biosphere will change that. Either Martian or Terran solution is going to have to leverage biogenic action because self-replicating actors are cheaper than man-manufactured ones, especially on a global scale. I'm sure we have samples of phtotosynthetic biogenic organisms that operate in low pressure and cold environments even without bioengineering anything new. I think may be easier to Terraform Mars than it is to Terraform Earth.

    Mars's atmosphere is currently frozen at its poles. In order to engage some Martian Global Warming we'll need to thaw the CO2 and convert massive quantities of water ice to CO2 and hydrocarbons (We'll need some carbon). Still no Nitrogen but if we can't find any in the soil we should be able to mine it somewhere.

    I've been thinking about this Mars thing a lot lately. A rocket sled to Deimos seems inefficient and unreliable even though there's some gravity assist if you use the Olympic skijump model of ramp made of ice. I think that it should be easy enough to build a cannon out of the available ice and use steam propulsion to launch multiton ice slugs up to Deimos, if you can adequately control the steam pressure and timing. If you want to get fancy you might put some minor steam propulsion in the ice slug and some minor intelligence to guide it. If you miss your shot it falls to barren Mars, so lots of practice shots are possible.

    The gravity on Deimos is only 400 Micro G, so the shot's got to get pretty close. Once you have tons of water in a shallow gravity well with plenty of electrical energy you've changed the game for off-earth work and life.

    Martian global warming might just be a side-effect of us doing what we're supposed to do: explore. Hopefully in 200 years the very idea of activating a Martian atmosphere will sound silly.

  • Re:However (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Thursday October 01, 2009 @12:00PM (#29606843) Homepage Journal

    SUV's are responsible for global warming. Damn them!

    SUVs are partly responsible for global warming, but so are compact cars (which are less responsible than SUVs). But as to the "damn them", considering that more people die in SUVs per passenger mile than any other type of vehicle, I'd say Darwin is working hard to get rid of the SUV drivers.

    SUVs are so dangerous because of a lot of factors:

    • Non-unibody construction
    • No crumple zones
    • Top heavy, so they'll roll over when a sensible car won't
    • Due to their weight they steer like a drunken cow
    • Due to their weight they have long stopping distances
    • Their size makes the drivers feel safe, even invincible

    BTW and offtopic, SUV is an acronym, not a contraction. The apostrophe doesn't belong there.

  • Re:global cooling (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday October 01, 2009 @01:23PM (#29607999) Homepage Journal

    "Imagine, if you like, that we just don't know enough about the system to say one way or the other whether cosmic rays influence low cloud cover?"

    there is a lot we don't know, but we do know that doesn't happen.

    "Well, I for one don't think the science is EVER settled."
    that statement makes me wonder if you know what science is? by definition science is never settled.
    That doesn't mean everything that pops into someones head is possible, or that we don't understand anything, or that the unknown is unknowable.

    The data gathered in the linked paper is from one event. it is in no way strong enough evidence to counter the 22 other events where this did NOT happen. Just looking at the data shows that there is no statiscal correlation.

    "Further research is needed"

    Only if they take a new tack, the current equopement doesn't show any statical correlation.

    If any one in this post has a religious faith on this issue, it appear to be you. You do realize that that paper is not about global warming at all?

    He didn't say they don't cause "Cosmic ray decreases affect atmospheric aerosols and clouds". He said there is no link to global warming, and there isn't.

    "As I keep saying in these types of discussion, the "team" warmists have all the funding, even though much of their research is bollocks."

    Both those statements are provable false.

    "hey peer review each others papers, use each others data (without archiving it for replication) and cite each other all the time,"
    yes, as does every else, Including coutries that would like very much to show that man has no impact on global warming.

    The BIB monney is in man not ahving an effect. Very powerfull companies and countries have a lot more money to spend if it's real.

    All the data points to it being man made. There is not correlation with the INCREASED temperature and suna ctivity. In short, when cosmic rays and sun activity are in a phase for a 'cool' earth, the temperature doesn't return to pre industrial numbers of similar events.

    Add ot it, it should be COOLER do to increase contrails and particulate matter; which is in fact helping keep the temperature down.

    If you bother to calm down and think,you would notice that it's the anti warmers that are cherry picking data. The will ignore volumes of data to highlight one flaw.

    Do you know whaer the money and prize is in science? doing studies the disprove previous theory, or discovering something radically new. It is in the best interest of corporate paid, and some emerging government paid scientist to show that man has no effect on global temperature, not to mention OPEC.The most interested, most heavily invest, and powerful groups can't find data to show that the earths warming isn't man made. Thye people making big money are books written by deniers. Any scientist that can disprove the man isn't impacting the global temperature would get wheel barrels of money from those groups.

    So, your PhD is in...?

    Linking to a study that most people wont't be able to get to is BAD FORM in the extreme.

    Too bad for you that not only can I get to the study, I had previously read the draft.

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