Categories: Space / AviationWarnings

Cosmic Rays from Mars will Damage Phones, Electronics-Fiction!

Cosmic Rays from Mars can Damage Phones, Electronics-Fiction! 

Summary of eRumor:

Singapore television warns readers to turn off their cell phones to avoid damage from cosmic rays from mars that could cause damage and personal harm.

The Truth:

Warnings about cosmic rays from Mars that can damage cell phones have been circulating since 2007, but there has never been a credible threat.

It’s not clear exactly where the warning started, but many different variations have circulated on social media over the years. One of the earliest versions (translated from Hindi) reads:

Singapore television announced the news. Please tell your family and friends. Tonight, 12:30 to 3:30 for our planet will be very high radiation. Cosmic rays will pass close to Earth. So please turn off your cell phone. Do not leave your device close to your body, it can cause you terrible damage. Check Google and NASA BBC News. Send this message to all the people who matter to you.

The rumor received new life in January 2017 when it appeared in video form at a YouTube channel hosted by GabeHashTV. The channel, which regularly posts highly-trafficked hoax videos about mermaid sightings and giant sea monsters found in exotic locations, posted the cosmic rays warning in a video appearing under the headline, “Important Notice: Shut Down Your Cell Phones tonight Because of Cosmic Rays 2017.”

It’s not clear exactly where the Mars cosmic rays warning originated, but there’s never been a credible threat. The earth’s magnetic shield blocks the majority of  low-energy cosmic rays, and higher-energy cosmic rays (which are very rare) are believed to be created by massive black holes, not events occurring on planets like Mars, NASA reports:

Cosmic rays are produced by a variety of violent events in space. Most cosmic rays originating within our solar system have relatively low energy and come from explosive events on the sun, like flares and coronal mass ejections. The highest-energy cosmic rays are extremely rare and are thought to be powered by massive black holes gorging on matter at the center of other galaxies. The cosmic rays that are the subject of this study come from outside our solar system but within our Galaxy and are called galactic cosmic rays. They are thought to be generated by shock waves from exploding stars called supernovae.

Given that different versions of warnings about cosmic rays from Mars have been circulating for more than a decade, and that the cosmic rays described in the warning don’t appear to mesh with what scientists know about them, we’re calling this warning “fiction.”

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