'Galactic Cosmic Rays' Threaten Fliers Health, Claims Scientist

Posted Aug 18th 2011 09:15 AMUpdated Aug 18th 2011 09:17 AM




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."

Filed Under: Air Travel, News

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Lissa Huang

I wish I can fly like a plane withou any limitation. More from Marshell Green Power CO., LTD, http://www.marshell.net

October 09 2011 at 4:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Lissa Huang's comment

This actually is true. There is greater background radiation at the magnetic poles.
And the magnetic poles are shifting. I'm the only one who knows how to stop this....Alfie-

February 11 2012 at 3:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If galactic cosmic rays are a threat to long haul travelers, why not refit the long haul planes with interiors that deflect that type of radiation?

August 28 2011 at 3:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rascallyrabid's comment

I was thinking the same thing but cosmic rays can penetrate even lead I believe.

March 19 2012 at 7:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
doo doo

Well, last week with the northern lights seen further south than in a long time, they said the sun is waking up for renewed activity. Now this article claims the opposite! Which is it then? Is the writer mistaken or the scientist? I'm guessing writer although scientists these days are not much better . . .

August 27 2011 at 4:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Did he study the health history of multi-decade pilots? What was the finding? Or did he just reach back, diddle himself and pull out this theory?

August 26 2011 at 11:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Really , is there anything people do that DOESN"T cauce cancer? We can't eat, breathe, drink water, use the bathroom, talk on the phone or have sex without being at risk for some form of cancer...

August 19 2011 at 10:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Goedjen

It would be difficult to dumb it down much more.... I am not a physist but I never heard of anything super sonic about solar wind! I am a million mile pluls flyer and have little or no concern about the danger mentioned. It is far more dangerous getting a burn at the beach than flying over the poles.

August 19 2011 at 12:16 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! REALLY?!!!! What are they going to come up with NEXT?!!!

August 19 2011 at 11:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Seems like a thin sheet of lead lining in the roof of aircraft would provide protection from this without adding a significant amount of weeight.

August 19 2011 at 10:34 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

if you are exposed frequently, adding up to many times you will get skin cancer 20 or 50 years later

August 19 2011 at 10:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Interesting that the "stock photo" shows an old DC-3 airliner from pre-WW2 days.

August 19 2011 at 9:17 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply