My background – Some folks have asked me about my background, so I thought I’d share a a little bit. At the University of Adelaide, I studied cosmic rays from the sun. When a large solar flare goes off, protons and electrons are accelerated, and launched on their way to earth.
Some arrive in just over eight minutes (ie. they travel at almost the speed of light). Others take much longer, as they “diffuse” through the magnetic fields between sun and earth.This diffusion is similar to pulling the cap off a bottle of perfume, and soon you can smell it in the far corner of the room.
I studied this diffusive motion of the cosmic rays, and how it depends on the interplanetary magnetic fields. That got me a Ph.D. in physics.
My first job after leaving Australia was in the government lab in Los Alamos, where the US built the bomb many years ago. Soon after I arrived, a huge solar flare exploded with no warning.
Yes they have forecasters who predict solar weather, but they missed this one!
This was the time of the Apollo Missions.
My first task at Los Alamos was to estimate the amount of radiation reaching the earth, and how dangerous that would have been for an astronaut in a spaceship circling the moon, or for one walking on the moon with only his space suit for protection.
If astronauts had been walking on the moon, they would probably have died from the cosmic radiation.
I switched horses ten years later, and became a petroleum engineer, but that’s another story.
And much later I spread my wings once again, and wrote a book called “Hiking Toward Heaven”. And that’s another story too (and a good one).
As I told Michelle in the book, “I’m now an author as well as a scientist disguised as a petroleum engineer”.