'Protonic Storms' Unleashed On DNA In Space

In his 1937 classic Menace in Miniature, Raymond Z. Gallun writes (in classic pulp sci-fi style) about the effects of proton pistols:

Their proton beams flared out, lashing the subtle particles into violent motion, and reducing them to fragments too fine to be visible, even if magnified a thousand diameters. The entire atmosphere within the war turret was submitted to the sterilizing action of the beams. Any living thing in the paths of the protonic storms from the pistols, must surely have been destroyed.
(Read more about proton pistols)

It turns out that Gallun was right about the effects of these "protonic storms" on living cells. In deep space, protons are the most abundant type of charged particle. Scientists at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory at DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory have recently discovered that proton radiation is more damaging to cells that was previously supposed.

This means that future space missions, particularly lengthy missions to Mars, must take additional precautions.


(From NASA Space Radiation Laboratory beamline)

"Scientists have been assuming that protons damage cells in a way similar to x-rays, but our results indicate that these assumptions have been wrong. The new data show that protons produce more potentially lethal double-strand breaks, a type of severe DNA damage, than other kinds of DNA damages,” said Brookhaven biologist Betsy Sutherland, the study’s lead researcher. “This means that scientists don’t really know how human DNA is affected by the most numerous particles in space and, as a result, do not know how to design the proper protection for astronauts."
(From Proton radiation more dangerous than once thought)

Sutherland and her group are now working with human cells irradiated by the same beams. Their research has shown that the use of low-energy protons in cancer treatment may need to be reexamined; improvements in cancer therapy could follow.

One local source of energetic protons is our own Sun; read about how solar activity has been shown to affect space missions throughout the solar system in Solar-Powered Interplanetary Shock Tracked To Saturn. Take a look at a "new" idea for shielding spacecraft in NASA's New Radiation Shielding First Proposed By John W. Campbell In 1936. Read more about Proton radiation more dangerous than once thought.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/22/2006)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Yes, But Do Astrobees Have Lasers For Lightsaber Training?
'... Ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.' - George Lucas, 1977.

Japan Uses Explosives On Asteroid
'...a tiny, rocket-powered projectile, drove towards the mysterious bulk. It hit, exploding into a cloud of incandescent vapour.' - EC Tubb, 1958.

Johns Hopkins Says Asteroid Deflection Will Be Difficult
'This obelisk is one huge deflector mechanism...' - Gene Roddenberry, 1968.

Hayabusa 2 To Begin Asteroid Mining
'We must dig down, and then doubtless we shall find the metal.' - Garrett P. Serviss, 1898.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Skin Electronics Can Show Electrocardiogram
'... the young men in the streets who applied polyimde OLED body film to their bared shoulders.'

Chinese Fern Helps Remediate Arsenic Soil
'Bioengeering had put out a spec report on the long crawly things five months back.'

Skai Air Taxi Costs The Same As Uber
'The air-taxi found its way past and around other ground-cars...'

Neurodevices For Consumers? Neuroethicists (And Philip K Dick) Say 'Caveat Emptor'
'They tried to use it today and it wouldn't work. No colors and no ceph patterns, neither one...'

NASA 3D Printed Habitat Challenge Won By AI SpaceFactory
3D printing - on Mars!

The Future Of Elon Musk's Neuralink
'Cerebral Electromagnetic Emmission Amplification and Relay System — call it artificial telepathy, if you like.'

Researchers Make You Say Anything in Videos
'[It] caused his televised image... to mouth the vowels and consonants beautifully.'

Jeff Bezos Tries Waldoes (Robotic Hands)
'Waldo put his arms into the primary pair before him...'

Asimov and Musk - Boring Company Tunnel vs. Street Race
'There was almost no sound, just a steady velvety whirr as the taxi sped along.'

Project Dylan - Amazon's Voice-Activated Wearable That Recognizes Human Emotions
Life imitates anime art.

Tesla Diagnoses Itself, Sends Part Request
'Tentacles emerged from the side of the machine and felt puzzledly at the damaged area.'

Lilium Electric Air Taxi Prototype
'The air-taxi found its way past and around other ground-cars...'

Swedes Premiere T-Pod Driverless Electric Truck
'the trucks gulped packages and scurried like beetles...'

HEL TVD Laser System To Be Built By Dynetics Lockheed Martin
'Forthwith flashes of actual flame, a bright glare leaping from one to another, sprang from the scattered group of men.'

Alcarelle Synthetic Alcohol Like Star Trek Synthehol
Bottoms up!

Datagrid Model Generation Perfect For Eternal Cities Of Science Fiction
'... there was enough flexibility to allow for wide variation.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.