“Astronomical”

Lethal Neutrinos

Is it possible to get a lethal radiation dose of neutrinos? Yes, if you were close enough to a supernova. But in that case you would have other problems that are a lot more serious.

The physicist who mentioned this problem to me told me his rule of thumb for estimating supernova-related numbers: However big you think supernovae are, they’re bigger than that.

Here’s a question to give you a sense of scale:

Which of the following would be brighter, in terms of the amount of energy delivered to your retina:

A supernova, seen from as far away as the Sun is from the Earth, or

The detonation of a hydrogen bomb pressed against your eyeball?

Applying the physicist rule of thumb suggests that the supernova is brighter. And indeed, it is … by nine orders of magnitude.

Nine orders of magnitude = 109 = one billion (short scale) times.

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