News Stories

How to RUIN Your Beach Vacation

As summer rolls around, many of us are planning to travel to a vacation spot on a plane, often to a beach, where we'll lie out in the sun. But this is not always safe--even if you use SUNSCREEN! What's going on here?

In AOL News, Andrew Schneider reports that while creams and ointments might prevent sunburn, they don't keep the sun's ultraviolet light from destroying your skin cells and causing tumors and lesions. It turns out that almost half of the 500 most popular sunscreen products may actually INCREASE the speed at which cancer cells develop and spread because they contain vitamin A or its derivatives, retinol and retinyl palmitate, which are included in many sunscreens because vitamin A is an anti-oxidant that slows skin aging.

Then there's the problem of the plane that gets you there: As if the ash coming from volcanoes and UFOs zipping by weren't enough, pilots also have to contend with gamma rays.

NASA's Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope is hunting for the most powerful explosions in the universe, which usually come from a dying star, but it's is also searching the earth for tiny flashes of radiation, in order to determine if they pose a potential hazard to passengers aboard high-flying jets. These occur above thunderstorms, and just one millisecond blast of terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs) could expose passengers and crew aboard a nearby jetliner to the same level of radiation as 400 chest X-rays.

Scientists first discovered the existence of TGFs by accident, when they were observed in a lightning flash in 1991, but they still don't know if lightning is what triggers them. It could be the opposite: The quick burst of electrons might spark a lightning strike. Either way, it's not good news for airline passengers!

In fact, jet planes can RUIN your week at the beach, because they make it RAIN. Airplanes can "seed" clouds by flying through them, causing narrow bands of rain or snow. If you've ever noticed it's raining on one side of the street, while it's dry on the other side, this may be the reason.

As turboprop and jet aircraft climb or descend under certain atmospheric conditions, they can seed mid-level clouds and cause narrow bands of snow or rain to develop and fall to the ground, leaving behind odd-shaped holes or channels in the clouds.

Meteorologist Andrew Heymsfield says, "Any time aircraft fly through these specific conditions, they are altering the clouds in a way that can result in enhanced precipitation nearby. Just by flying an airplane through these clouds, you could produce as much precipitation as with seeding materials along the same path in the cloud."

If you DRIVE to the beach, you can catch up on your radio listening. Regular unknowncountry.com. listeners only have access to a month of shows, but subscribers can listen (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show) for an entire year, as well as download shows to an MP3 disc so you can listen in your car and in other places away from your computer. You get all this for less than $4 per month. So what are you waiting for? Subscribe today!

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Art credit: Dreamstime.com

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