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Author Topic: Could cosmic rays delivered through lightning be the cause of genetic mutation ?  (Read 3228 times)

Offline petrovitch

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Could cosmic rays delivered through lightning be the cause of genetic mutation of plant and animal life?






mode edit: Please make thread titles into questions in line with forum protocol. It's best for you.
« Last Edit: 01/01/2010 11:26:34 by neilep »


 

Offline LeeE

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Any ionising radiation can result in genetic mutation; that's how evolution works.  By definition though, cosmic rays come from outer space and aren't connected with lightning, which is an atmospheric phenomenon.

While lightning generates lots of EM radiation, I don't think that any of it has a short enough wavelength to be ionising i.e. I don't think that lighting produces any gamma radiation.  Alpha and beta radiation are the result of nuclear decay, and I don't think any of that occurs in lightning either, but in any case, if alpha and beta were produced by lightning, I think you'd have to be uncomfortably close to the lightning bolt to be affected by it.
 

Offline RD

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I had heard lightning produced X-rays, but this article says Gamma-rays too ...

Quote
It has been recently revealed that most lightning emits an intense burst of X-rays and/or gamma-rays which seem to be produced during the stepped-leader and dart-leader phases just before the stroke becomes visible. The X-ray bursts typically have a total duration of less than 100 microseconds and have energies extending up to nearly a few hundred KeV. The presence of these high-energy events match and support the "runaway breakdown" theory, and were discovered through the examination of rocket triggered lightning, and from satellite monitoring of natural lightning.
http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Lightning#Runaway_breakdown_theory
« Last Edit: 02/01/2010 17:45:37 by RD »
 

Offline LeeE

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Ta for posting that RD.  Live and learn.

It looks like mutations could indeed be caused by lightning.
 

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