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posted by LaminatorX on Friday November 28 2014, @06:42AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the planet-odor dept.

http://www.colorado.edu/news/features/star-trek-invisible-shield-found-thousands-miles-above-earth
Abstract: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v515/n7528/full/nature13956.html

A Star Trek like shield has been discovered 7,200 miles about earth that blocks ultrafast "killer electrons" from moving deep into the Earth's atmosphere. It was observed that the "shield" blocked these electrons in a similar manner to the force fields on Star Trek repelling alien weapons.

A team led by the University of Colorado Boulder has discovered an invisible shield some 7,200 miles above Earth that blocks so-called “killer electrons,” which whip around the planet at near-light speed and have been known to threaten astronauts, fry satellites and degrade space systems during intense solar storms.

The barrier to the particle motion was discovered in the Van Allen radiation belts, two doughnut-shaped rings above Earth that are filled with high-energy electrons and protons, said Distinguished Professor Daniel Baker, director of CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). Held in place by Earth’s magnetic field, the Van Allen radiation belts periodically swell and shrink in response to incoming energy disturbances from the sun.

As the first significant discovery of the space age, the Van Allen radiation belts were detected in 1958 by Professor James Van Allen and his team at the University of Iowa and were found to be comprised of an inner and outer belt extending up to 25,000 miles above Earth’s surface. In 2013, Baker -- who received his doctorate under Van Allen -- led a team that used the twin Van Allen Probes launched by NASA in 2012 to discover a third, transient “storage ring” between the inner and outer Van Allen radiation belts that seems to come and go with the intensity of space weather.

The latest mystery revolves around an “extremely sharp” boundary at the inner edge of the outer belt at roughly 7,200 miles in altitude that appears to block the ultrafast electrons from breeching the shield and moving deeper towards Earth’s atmosphere.

“It’s almost like theses electrons are running into a glass wall in space,” said Baker, the study’s lead author. “Somewhat like the shields created by force fields on Star Trek that were used to repel alien weapons, we are seeing an invisible shield blocking these electrons. It’s an extremely puzzling phenomenon.”

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  • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28 2014, @07:07AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28 2014, @07:07AM (#120790)

    Research proves space travel is impossible!

    Cancel all space funding!!

    More funding for WAR!!!

    In related news, Obama is reportedly overjoyed, for the troooooops!

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by davester666 on Friday November 28 2014, @08:16AM

      by davester666 (155) on Friday November 28 2014, @08:16AM (#120791)

      For god's sake, let it alone. If you alter it in any way, my enemies will be able to find me hiding here on Earth.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28 2014, @09:16AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28 2014, @09:16AM (#120796)

        What are you talking about, THEY ARE already here.

        • (Score: 2) by davester666 on Friday November 28 2014, @04:04PM

          by davester666 (155) on Friday November 28 2014, @04:04PM (#120863)

          Yes. And I created this shield to hide from the others.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28 2014, @09:23AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28 2014, @09:23AM (#120797)

      Actually it's the opposite: If we find out the cause of this natural shield, we might learn how to create it artificially and thus solve one of the problems of long-time space travel, namely radiation shielding.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28 2014, @09:46AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28 2014, @09:46AM (#120800)

        Actually if you learn how to create it artificially, rich people will use invisible shields to solve a long-term sociological problem: how to keep poor people off their property long enough for the poor people to die.

        • (Score: 2) by unitron on Friday November 28 2014, @12:46PM

          by unitron (70) on Friday November 28 2014, @12:46PM (#120823) Journal

          Actually if you learn how to create it artificially, rich people will use invisible shields to solve a long-term sociological problem: how to keep poor people off their property long enough for the poor people to die.

          But if they keep the poor people out, who will do the landscaping?

          --
          something something Slashcott something something Beta something something
      • (Score: 1) by lizardloop on Friday November 28 2014, @12:24PM

        by lizardloop (4716) on Friday November 28 2014, @12:24PM (#120819) Journal

        My understanding is that the most harmful radiation in space are gamma rays. Gamma rays are unaffected by magnetic fields so as far as I know would pass straight through any natural or artificially generated Van Allen belt.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28 2014, @11:00AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28 2014, @11:00AM (#120809)

    I, for one, have always wondered how much work is (reportedly) done by earth's magnetic field. High energy particles need high energy to be deflected, so it's all about the limit of very high energy vs very low mass of the particles multiplied by the amount of particles we get. Does it all fit the work that theoretically can be done by a magnetic field? If so, a smaller field can deflect stuff on space. If not so, this shield becomes quite interesting.

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by PiMuNu on Friday November 28 2014, @02:24PM

      by PiMuNu (3823) Subscriber Badge on Friday November 28 2014, @02:24PM (#120839)

      Magnetic fields conserve energy. The magnetic field can only deflect/reflect. It cannot change the energy of incoming particles. The change in angle is given by the product of the strength of the field (not much) and the distance travelled through the field (rather a lot). So even relatively high energy particles can get deflected.

  • (Score: 2) by Dunbal on Friday November 28 2014, @12:35PM

    by Dunbal (3515) on Friday November 28 2014, @12:35PM (#120820)

    Puzzling that charged particles are deflected in a magnetic field? Seriously?

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by unitron on Friday November 28 2014, @12:51PM

    by unitron (70) on Friday November 28 2014, @12:51PM (#120824) Journal

    ...scientists have now discovered the shield is made of Gardol, the same stuff they use in Colgate toothpaste.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4uTXpGqMZQ [youtube.com]

    --
    something something Slashcott something something Beta something something
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28 2014, @02:40PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28 2014, @02:40PM (#120843)

    The so-called Star Trek shields here would be more accurately deflector shields which do exactly what is described. Those are different from the shields used to stop weapons fire. Basically creates the same magnetic effect used to repel space particles while in movement which at sub-light or warp speeds could render even the smallest particulates in to a bullet that can puncture the ship's hull. Star Trek nerdism.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28 2014, @06:35PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28 2014, @06:35PM (#120917)

    That's 3 times startrek, well 4 if you also count the URL.

    Once was good and dandy, twice as losing steam, three times?? Pretty awkward. 4 times .....