IT is generally agreed that the light flashes observed by astronauts on Apollo missions 11–141 were produced by the passage of heavy cosmic ray nuclei through the eye. The exact mechanism has been a subject of some controversy, however, most workers leaning towards either Čerenkov radiation2–4 or direct ionization and excitation of molecules at the retina1,5,6. Light flashes similar to the Apollo observations have been reported to result from irradiations of the eyes by X-rays5,7, neutrons5,6,9,10 and slow alpha particles8, all of which are more likely to involve ionization and excitation than Čerenkov radiation. Early indications that the human eye might be sensitive to individual relativistic singly charged particles11 have not been borne out by calculations3 or by recent observations5.
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MCNULTY, P. Light Flashes produced in the Human Eye by Extremely Relativistic Muons. Nature 234, 110 (1971). https://doi.org/10.1038/234110a0
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