The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Could power lines concentrate background radiation  (Read 4699 times)

ROBERT

  • Guest
Could the electric field created by high voltage power lines concentrate the normal background radiation produced by cosmic rays ?

I am NOT suggesting that electricity power supply lines create ionising radiation.
I am asking if power lines could concentrate naturally occurring ionising radiation locally,
(within a few hundred metres of the lines).


 

Offline Soul Surfer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 3345
  • keep banging the rocks together
    • View Profile
    • ian kimber's web workspace
Re: Could power lines concentrate background radiation
« Reply #1 on: 10/01/2006 18:02:20 »
Basically no for the following three reasons.

 1   Electrical power transmission lines almost always carry alternating current.  This means that any tendancy of the electric or magnetic fields to deflect particles would change from one direction to another throughout the cycle of the alternating currents and voltages so it is verey unlikely that there would be any net focussing effect.  

2  The charged particles in cosmic rays come from all directions so there is not a sensible direction that any focus could operate.

3. The energy of the particles is high and the firlds produced by power lines is in context relatively low so any deflection would be mininmal.

Learn, create, test and tell
evolution rules in all things
God says so!
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 12656
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • A stitch in time would have confused Einstein.
    • View Profile
Re: Could power lines concentrate background radiation
« Reply #2 on: 10/01/2006 18:06:33 »
That's interesting. I've heard a lot of stuff said about power cables & I think most of it is probably rubbish
 

Offline wbeaty

  • First timers
  • *
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
    • http://amasci.com
Re: Could power lines concentrate background radiation
« Reply #3 on: 11/01/2006 05:22:27 »

I recall seeing a research paper years ago with a plot of GM counter readings versus position below a big power line.  There was a low spot in a region below the line which was many yards wide, and two narrower high spots on either side.   This suggests that a power line acts like a shield by deflecting incoming particles to either side.

"Soul Surfer" above should note that experiments show us where the flaws in our theories lay.   Theories make predictions which then must be checked.   If nobody bothers to check, then all we have is untested speculation.

Does AC tend to average out to zero?  Not if the magnetic fields of the AC are shifting the paths of charged particles first to the left, then to the right.  On average, the paths would be shifted away from center.

Is the magnetic field surrounding the wire too weak to deflect high energy particles?  No, since low energy charged particles will be deflected just as much as high energy charged particles because faster particles act as a higher current which gives stronger magnetic interactions leading to more deflection.

Do cosmic rays come from all directions?   No, they come from above.  Perhaps he's thinking of BACKGROUND RADIATION, which is partly caused by cosmic rays, and partly caused by radioactive minerals in the soil, by radon gas, etc.


 

Offline DoctorBeaver

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 12656
  • Thanked: 3 times
  • A stitch in time would have confused Einstein.
    • View Profile
Re: Could power lines concentrate background radiation
« Reply #4 on: 11/01/2006 16:52:12 »
William - do you think, then, that there could be some substance in the medical problems allegedly caused by overhead power cables? If they do indeed deflect particles, that would cause a higher concentration to either side. If our bodies have evolved to be able to handle the normal level of such, could the extra concentration of certain particles cause conditions such as leukaemia?
 

ROBERT

  • Guest
Re: Could power lines concentrate background radiation
« Reply #5 on: 11/01/2006 17:43:45 »
The "aluminium foil hat brigade" may have a point about increased rates of leukaemia close to electricity pylons.

http://www.electric-fields.bris.ac.uk/ChildhoodLeukaemia.htm
http://www.electric-fields.bris.ac.uk/
« Last Edit: 11/01/2006 17:54:08 by ROBERT »
 

Offline Soul Surfer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 3345
  • keep banging the rocks together
    • View Profile
    • ian kimber's web workspace
Re: Could power lines concentrate background radiation
« Reply #6 on: 11/01/2006 17:54:23 »
Wbeaty the question was could the power lines concentrate the radiation. by which I infer a significant increase ie more than doubling the intensity of the general level of radiation.  Agreed most of the cosmic rays come from the hemisphere that includes the air but most of the other background radiation comes from the ground and is lower energy and potentially more damaging if you were considering radiation hazards.

I agree theories and hypotheses should be tested practically but I also think that they should first be modeled mathematically because that's usually much quicker cheaper and easier.

Learn, create, test and tell
evolution rules in all things
God says so!
« Last Edit: 11/01/2006 19:56:04 by Soul Surfer »
 

Offline daveshorts

  • Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2583
  • Physics, Experiments
    • View Profile
    • http://www.chaosscience.org.uk
Re: Could power lines concentrate background radiation
« Reply #7 on: 11/01/2006 21:26:59 »
I read an interesting critique of the power line paranoia industry, apparently a lot of the correlations in illness and power lines also correlate with the tendancy of power lines to be in more deprived areas. Also a lot of the original studies didn't acutally measure the EM field they 'estimated' it, and these 'estimations' didn't really correlate with actual measurements.

I would also be very surprised if they did have an effect, it would be very easy to do a test especially if  a local electricity company was doing some maintainance and didn't mind turning on and off the power a few times.
 

another_someone

  • Guest
Re: Could power lines concentrate background radiation
« Reply #8 on: 12/01/2006 00:10:30 »
quote:
Originally posted by daveshorts
I would also be very surprised if they did have an effect, it would be very easy to do a test especially if  a local electricity company was doing some maintainance and didn't mind turning on and off the power a few times.



An experiment like that would only work if there was a clearly discernible short term effect.  If there no noticeable short term effect, but a significant cumulative effect, then such an experiment would not give any meaningful results.

My own suspicion is that there may be an effect.  Not an ionising effect, nor even a thermal effect, but a discernible effect nonetheless.  My reasons for believing this are that we now know that organisms are able to detect electrical and magnetic fields.  We know that, for instance, pigeons probably navigate using the Earth's magnetic field, as do some bacteria.  We know that the human body also contains iron that might well be susceptible to magnetic influence.

I suspect that we are also able to detect the amount of electrical charge in the atmosphere, and sometimes use this to instinctively forecast weather.  This is supposedly why room ionisers are meant to improve one's mood.  It may be that what we are detecting is not directly the electric field, but the electrical ions; but these ions will themselves be effected by external electrical fields, such as those around a power transmission line.

My own suspicion is that the fields, or the ions effected by them, do not actually make direct changes to the human body, but can possible alter mood, as different weathers can alter mood, and this prolonged effect upon mood could suppress the immune system.

This is pure guesswork on my part, but real evidence of how weather effects the human body, and how that might be mimicked by other environmental factors, is rather lacking.

There might also be possible subtle magnetic effects directly acting upon ferrous iron complexes within the human body.
« Last Edit: 12/01/2006 00:17:15 by another_someone »
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: Could power lines concentrate background radiation
« Reply #8 on: 12/01/2006 00:10:30 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums