The Radioactive Origins of Marvel Comics
Speaker: Professor Daniel Claes
When: 7:00pm February 18, 2015
Location: Love Library, Talk Zone Room 222
Description: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Professor Dan Claes explores physics topics inspired by iconic comic book characters, their superpowers, and significant events in their history. Tonight we will explore the Fantastic Origins of the Fantastic Four and the X-men, Children of the Atom!
The Van Allen radiation belts, and the intense radiation there, were discovered by satellite probes. At the earth's surface we are protected from most cosmic rays by a combination of the earth's atmosphere (absorbing some of the radiation) and the earth's magnetic field (deflecting many, but the most energetic, cosmic rays). Recognizing that the radiation would be more intense above the atmosphere and outside the strongest parts of the magnetic field, satellites designed to measure this background were placed in orbit. Early space missions launched rockets north of the central belt.
That wouldn't have been practical for the moon missions, however. Additional measurements, calculations and modeling eventually determined that short passage through the belts (provided the rockets moved fast enough!) would not be as deadly as originally assumed. The Apollo missions did in fact go straight through the Van Allen belts with no ill effects. But, of course, no cosmic storm.