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Thunderstorms Create Antimatter

Regular old thunderstorms have been proven to create positrons and shoot them off into space. Using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, scientists have found antimatter beams produced above thunderstorms, thought to have formed inside a terrestrial gamma-ray flash (TGF), which in turn is something associated with lightning.

Fermi, designed to detect gamma rays, detected the antimatter in a roundabout way: When a particle of antimatter collides with a particle of normal matter, both are destroyed and turn into gamma rays, which is what Fermi detected. The thing is, Fermi is a satellite, which is how NASA figured out that thunderstorms actually shoot the positrons off into space, because if thunderstorms didn’t launch the positrons, Fermi would not have been able to detect them. NASA provides a handy infographic explaining the process:

The moral of the science? If we want to gain superpowers, we have to hover above thunderstorms.

(NASA via Watts Up With That?; title pic via

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