Radioactive Mystery Above Alaska Confounds Scientists — What Caused This?

Oh, wow. This certainly seems to have scientists baffled.

Live Science is reporting that The Journal of Environmental Radioactivity will be publishing a shocking article in its April edition.

According to the report, an American research aircraft detected a single trace of enriched uranium located 4.3 miles above Alaska’s western islands. The aircraft was tasked with studying air pollution and found the particle in August of 2016.

The specimen, measuring just 580 nanometers wide (half the size of a human blood cell), is definitely not derived from a natural source and that’s because the particle was heavily laced with the isotope uranium-235 (U-235), which can only be achieved through manufacturing processes.

The presence of naturally occurring uranium is not that uncommon.

“Particulate matter containing uranium can originate from sources such as combustion of coals with trace uranium, windblown crustal material, and mining and processing of ores, whether it be for the uranium itself or other minerals such as rare earths [a group of chemically similar elements that aren’t actually that rare, but are difficult to mine] and phosphate,” authors of the study write.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientist, Dan Murphy told Gizmo, “It’s not a significant amount of radioactive debris by itself,” “But it’s the implication [of this finding is] that there’s some very small source of uranium that we don’t understand.”

The atom U-235, made up of 92 protons and 143 neutrons, is essential in maintaining a nuclear chain reaction in atomic weapons. The reaction occurs when one atom is split through a triggering explosion, sending neutrons speeding out and colliding with other atoms, causing them to split ad nauseum.

The sample found in the skies above western Alaska were refined for weaponized uses. While on its own it is not dangerous, it still begs the question of where it came from.

“Based on prevailing air currents,” writes Live Science, “it’s likely the particle came to Alaska from somewhere within a broad swath of Asia, including China, Japan and the Korean Peninsula.”

What do you think? Who do you think is behind the uranium particle’s existence?

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