Thursday, January 31, 2013

Radiate Something Positive on Van Allen Radiation Belt Day

On this day in 1958 James Van Allen discovered the Van Allen Radiation Belt.

Now you know the way my mind works.

I picture Mr. Van Allen wearing something sort of Buck Rogers meets Vera Wang around his waist that will help him slenderize effortlessly:

"The Van Allen Radiation Belt, available now for the low, low price of $39.95, and operators are standing by! Act now and get a second Van Allen Radiation Belt at no additional charge!!!"

But no, that is not what the Van Allen Radiation Belt is all about.

Apparently somewhere up above us all there is a collection of two torus shaped layers of energetic charged particles AKA plasma that are held in place by the Earth’s gravitational pull.

Hmm. This still sounds like something you get on the Shopping Network.

At any rate, a Van Allen Radiation Belt is one of those technically unexplainable phenomena beyond the outer stratosphere that one would not want to spend too much time worrying about.

Those who fly in space (Including Ham the Chimp who had his space flight on this day in 1961) need to be aware of the Van Allen belt, especially as it effects their space vehicles. The Apollo astronauts were the first to transverse the Van Allen Belt and scientists were concerned about the level of radiation they would receive. Subsequent tests have shown that you get more radiation eating off of one of those old red Fiestware plates, so that is a relief.

There really is not much of a point to this except to give nod to James Van Allen of the University of Iowa, and to remind you to radiate something positive as you go about your Van Allen Radiation Belt Day, today.

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