Even though it is a relatively recent discovery, will scientists be able to further explain why there is a Star Trek-like force field currently wrapped around planet earth?
By: Ringo Bones
As published back in November 30, 2014, a team of American scientists had just recently discovered that planet Earth is apparently encased in an invisible force field that the team compared to with the “shields” featured in the iconic TV science fiction show Star Trek. The barrier is located 7,200 miles above the Earth’s surface and blocks high energy electrons incoming from the Sun and elsewhere in the cosmos but the high radiation cloud that results might pose a threat to astronauts and the sensitive electronics of satellites traversing this region for prolonged periods.
Scientists identified an “extremely sharp” boundary within the Van Allen Radiation Belts as two large doughnut-shaped rings held in place by the Earth’s magnetic field that are filled by fast-moving energetic particles. Lead researcher Professor Daniel Baker, from the University of Colorado at Boulder, said: “It’s almost like these electrons are running into a glass wall in space. Somewhat like the shields created by the force fields on Star Trek that were used to repel alien weapons, we are seeing an invisible shield blocking these electrons. It’s an extremely puzzling phenomenon.”
The team originally thought the highly charged electrons, which loop around the Earth at more than 100,000 miles per second, would slowly drift downward into the upper atmosphere. But a pair of probes launched in 2012 to investigate the Van Allen Belt showed that the electrons are stopped before they get that far.
The nature of the force field remains an unsolved mystery. It does not appear to be linked to the magnetic field lines or human-generated radio signals and the scientists are not convinced that a cloud of cold electrically charged gas called the plasmasphere that stretches thousands of miles out into the outer Van Allen Belt can fully explain the phenomenon either.
“Things we thought in the past were truly simply are not correct”, Baker said: “It is for this reason that I cite the great American philosopher Yogi Berra who said, ‘You can observe a lot just by looking.’ Our new instruments allow us to look in ways we never could before.”
Baker added: “I think the key here is to keep observing the region in exquisite detail, which we can do because of the powerful instruments on the Van Allen probes.” The research is reported in the journal Nature. But unlike the known Earth's magnetic field that enabled the Van Allen Radiation Belt to exist, the force fields and other "advanced fields" featured on the iconic TV series Star Trek seems to be created by a point source, or monopolar / magnetic monopole based technology, field generators - as opposed to via a north and south magnetic field or positive and negative electrically charged fields of the ones scientists are currently familiar with.