Recent measurements of the characteristics of energetic particles incident on the top of the atmosphere, presumably precipitated from the earth's trapped radiation, are discussed. The incident flux varies widely, from 108 to 1010 particles/cm2 sec for electrons. Other characteristics of the flux also vary from event to event, independently of the flux and of each other. During the most intense events, which are the ones which correspond to aurorae, the lifetime of an electron in the trapping region is only a few seconds. Clearly, violent processes go on during such events, so violent as to destroy the effectiveness of the trap. Several mechanisms, including one presented in an appendix to the paper, are examined and it is concluded that no one process accounts for all observations.