How to become irradiated at 30 000 feet.

From: (D.M.Procida)
Date:         22 Apr 94 11:29:46 
Organization: University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
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My friend- who, I might add, is afu-conscious- tells me that he heard (or
read or saw) something quite worrying about air travel: on a trans-Atlantic
flight, one receives substantial doses of radiation. This is because there
is much less atmosphere above to absorb the nasties. I presume the radiation
in question is gamma radiation, by the way.

Anyway, he added that this dose is so strong that a single trans-Atlantic
flight is as good as living next door to a nuclear power station for the
rest of your life, and that you shouldn't have any x-rays for the next year.

What I want to know is a) why, in that case, don't the children of airline
pilots all have the wrong number of digits and b) can aircraft be made out
of lead?

I'm quite sceptical of the *quantities* in this little piece of knowledge
(though the idea seems about right). Any offers?

By the way, please note that this has been cross-posted to
sci.aeronautics.airliners, and that follow-ups should go to

Daniele "The unfriendly skies indeed" Procida