'Galactic Cosmic Rays' Threaten Fliers Health, Claims Scientist
A British solar scientist is warning long haul fliers that they may be subjected to cancer causing cell damage on flights near the poles due to an increasing number of solar energetic particles and galactic cosmic rays.
The alert, which sounds like something out of an early James Bond film, is based on shifts in solar weather.
According to Mike Lockwood, a Professor of Space Environment Physics at the University of Reading, the sun has spent the last decade spitting out flares and superheated gas and is about to transition into a period of relative calm. That transition, according to Lockwood, will be marked by highly irregular behavior during which gas particles will shoot from the sun towards Earth.
These gas particles can be carcinogenic, so Lockwood is urging those who frequently fly the long routes over the North Pole region – Seoul to New York, London to San Francisco, Chicago to Moscow – to get regularly tested for cancer.
Writing in the Journal of Geophysical Research, Lockwood claimed: "The supersonic nature of the solar wind means open solar flux can only be removed by near-Sun magnetic reconnection between open solar magnetic field lines."
Lockwood dumbed it down a bit for the Daily Mail, saying "Analysis shows that the risk of the space-weather effects is considerably enhanced over the next century compared with the space age thus far."
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