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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Yes, It Must Be Cosmic Rays! What Else Could It Be?

Hello Troops,
Well well well...... I finally found the reason for my recent sleepless spell, not to mention a few extra aches and pains that some claim are the result of advancing age. Why just today I was sitting at my desk at the Space Center when one of our 7th grade volunteers came in to pass a few minutes of his day before venturing on home to bother his parents or torment his sister. We got talking about some of my old, former students from years back. When I mentioned a few names from the early 1980's he gave me this puzzled look. I could tell he was searching his juvenile data banks to try to place just when that might have been. I saw through his eyes and read his thoughts. For a while he had me placed in the horse and buggy days but soon figured out that couldn't be. Finally he just gave up trying to place something from so long ago and just stuck the "Man you're old" band aid on it.

Anyway, after a bit of research I'm ready to pronounce my theory to explain my latest symptoms. Cosmic Rays. I've decided to share some of my reasoning with you. Enjoy the article and do try to learn something.

Mr. Williamson

Galactic cosmic rays have just hit a Space Age high, new data from a NASA spacecraft indicates.

"In 2009, cosmic ray intensities have increased 19 percent beyond anything we've seen in the past 50 years," said Richard Mewaldt of Caltech. "The increase is significant, and it could mean we need to re-think how much radiation shielding astronauts take with them on deep-space missions."

The surge, which poses no threat to Earth, was detected by NASA's ACE (Advanced Composition Explorer) spacecraft.

The cause of the surge is solar minimum, a deep lull in the sun's activity that began around 2007 and continues today. Researchers have long known that cosmic rays go up when solar activity goes down, because strong solar activity inflates and bolsters a protective bubble around our entire solar system.

Right now solar activity — marked by sunspots, solar flares and space storms — is as weak as it has been in modern times, setting the stage for what Mewaldt calls "a perfect storm of cosmic rays."

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