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(Slate)   Was the Earth hit by a gamma-ray burst 1235 years ago? Bonus: Unlike most rhetorical titles, the answer may be "yes"   (slate.com) divider line 84
    More: Scary, Earth, gamma-ray bursts, gamma-ray, neutron stars, magnetars, light-years, Death from the Skies, supernova remnants  
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22569 clicks; posted to Main » on 21 Jan 2013 at 3:18 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-01-21 05:07:04 PM
If a gamma ray burst really does go flash somewhere in our cosmic neighborhood, the end of times would be really nasty. It will be like a Hiroshima bomb going off -- on every place on Earth at the same time!
 
2013-01-21 05:16:34 PM

RexTalionis: Fun Fact: Did you know that Charlemagne conquered the kingdom of the Lombards in 774 AD by turning into a 10 foot tall green rage monster?


But he must let the huns think he's dead, until he can control the raging cajun inside him..
 
2013-01-21 05:24:12 PM

Stone Meadow: PhiloeBedoe: That would explain all those 8th century Illuminations of people walking backwards with their thumbs out...

[/snark] Could be if it occurred near the summer equinox. If I read TFA correctly, it was a line-of sight event. So if it hit Japan and only lasted 2 seconds, it could have also hit Europe at the same time only from about May-July. During the rest of the year Europe would be 'over the horizon' from Japan. You can play with a daylight map to see what I mean. Maybe Phil has additional insight.



That might work if the culprit were a solar flare, but a GRB could come from anywhere in space.

If I read TFA correctly, then

a) the C-14 and Be-10 were formed in the atmosphere when/where the GRB hit, and
b) the tree-ring signal was present worldwide but more sharply focused in Japan than in America and Europe.

So Japan would have been in the direct line of sight and received the maximum concentration of radionuclides immediately, while Europe and America were not directly affected and would only have received whatever blew in on the wind over a period of time.
 
2013-01-21 05:27:42 PM
last year: GRB 1234 years ago!
Media: what ? did you make that number up? idiots

This year: GRB 1235 years ago!
Media: OMG!!! lets report it!
 
2013-01-21 05:39:49 PM
Would something like this make the carbon dating we use to determine age any less accurate? Interesting if it does. I can see the pseudo-science Creationists jumping all over this if it were the case. Thankfully none of them are smart enough to make the connection.
 
2013-01-21 05:54:48 PM

texdent: Did anyone Hulk out?


it was a short duration GRB so the effects were minor

25.media.tumblr.com
 
2013-01-21 06:03:08 PM

ParagonComplex: Would something like this make the carbon dating we use to determine age any less accurate? Interesting if it does. I can see the pseudo-science Creationists jumping all over this if it were the case. Thankfully none of them are smart enough to make the connection.


Give them a few days. At least a few of them more or less religiously read the Bad Astronomy blog, just so they can twist what he says into supporting their conclusion.
 
2013-01-21 06:07:29 PM
What was the effect of the gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds?
 
2013-01-21 06:14:18 PM
Let's see what happened in the world, during the year 813:

By place
Byzantine Empire

June 22 - Byzantine Emperor Michael I Rangabe is defeated in a war against the Bulgarians.
July 12 - A revolt puts Leo V on the throne of the Byzantine Empire; former emperor Michael I Rangabe becomes a monk, beginning the Second Iconoclastic Period.
Ashot I becomes the first Georgian Bagratid prince of Iberia under the Byzantine protection.

Europe

Louis the Pious is crowned co-emperor of the Franks with his father Charlemagne.
The Bulgars capture Adrianople.
Forces from today's Denmark attack today's Vestfold due to insubordination.

Asia

Fourth Fitna: The Siege of Baghdad ends with the fall of the city and the death of al-Amin, making al-Mamun the undisputed Abbasid caliph.
The Baghdad School of Astronomy is opened by al-Mamun.
 
2013-01-21 06:19:26 PM

Jragghen: firemanbuck: Autistic Hiker: A nearby exploding star, or supernova, is almost certainly not the culprit. To generate the energy needed to create the carbon and beryllium seen, it would have to have been less than 1000 light years away. That would've made it so bright it would've been visible in daylight! Also, no 1200-year-old supernova remnant has been detected, and it would be incredibly obvious if it existed (the Crab nebula is 1000 years old and more than 6000 light years way, for example, and is one of the brightest supernova remnants in the sky).

GaaAAAAh brain dead science reporting. The Crab Nebula is 7500 years old. It was detected 1000 years ago.

If it's 1000 years old and 6000 light years away, we wouldn't be able to see it for another 5000 years.

Depends on your frame of reference. :v

Another way to think about things: "Now" is what we are observing. Nothing can move faster than the speed of light, so it's impossible for anything (gravity, etc) to impact anything beyond its light-cone, therefore it's not really correct to think of something happening "now" 1000 light years away to be observed 1000 years from now - it could also easily be argued that, from the perspective of observation and interactivity, "now" of something 1000 ly away is what we're observing to have occurred "1000 years ago."

This is likely what the article writer was attempting to describe.

Also, I'm terrible at explaining these sort of things, so that likely made very little sense.


So, we're looking at 'now' now. Anything that happens 'now' is happening now.

But what happened to then?
 
2013-01-21 06:27:19 PM
ts1.mm.bing.net
Yo Gamma Gamma
 
2013-01-21 06:48:34 PM
<b><a href="http://www.fark.com/comments/7547671/82032672#c82032672" target="_blank">Millennium</a>:</b> <i>Perducci: Just wait for Creationists to use this as an argument against carbon dating.

"See! All it takes is a burst of radiation from space (sent by the One and Only Lord Almighty His Infinite Wonderfulness) to completely mess up the amount of carbon in old stuff! The earth really is 6,000 years old. Take that, science!"

Wouldn't this mess things up in the opposite direction, though? If the amount of Carbon-14 suddenly increased 1200 years ago, this would imply that anything dated to be older than that would actually be much older than the test indicated.

What I find interesting about this finding is that gamma-ray bursts have for some time been a classic life-ending disaster scenario: the sort of thing that causes massive extinctions and ends nearly all life on Earth (or, depending on who you ask, potentially all of it). This hypothesis, if true, would mean that we got smacked at essentially point-blank range by one, but nothing much happened. Either that was one weak ass-gamma burst, or they aren't actually the massive threat once believed.</i>

The article talks about the different ways GRB can occur. One forming from the creation of a black hole in our galaxy, and aimed towards us, would have devastating effects on just about everything. Plus it would result in a different ratio between radioactive carbon and beryllium. The kind that forms from two neutron stars colliding is apparently less energetic and not as deadly to life beneath the atmosphere.
 
2013-01-21 06:56:07 PM
I'm disappointed in the lack of "Uranus" jokes, especially considering that the topic at hand is "gamma ray bursts".

You people are slipping.

/In and out.
//Repeatedly.
///Your mom likes it.
 
2013-01-21 07:22:00 PM
Were aliens involved? I don't know why people that write articles about space can't include a line at the bottom that says, "Aliens were probably not involved during this event." They might want to mention God, too. Wait; is God an alien? I have to think about this, so nobody start adding this to their space articles yet. Ok?
 
2013-01-21 08:12:35 PM

meat0918: ParagonComplex: Would something like this make the carbon dating we use to determine age any less accurate? Interesting if it does. I can see the pseudo-science Creationists jumping all over this if it were the case. Thankfully none of them are smart enough to make the connection.

Give them a few days. At least a few of them more or less religiously read the Bad Astronomy blog, just so they can twist what he says into supporting their conclusion.


May not be so bad, because it'll prompt him to write a retort article explaining the nonsense away. Gotta think positive,yo.
 
2013-01-21 08:19:40 PM

CygnusDarius: Let's see what happened in the world, during the year 813:

By place
Byzantine Empire

June 22 - Byzantine Emperor Michael I Rangabe is defeated in a war against the Bulgarians.
July 12 - A revolt puts Leo V on the throne of the Byzantine Empire; former emperor Michael I Rangabe becomes a monk, beginning the Second Iconoclastic Period.
Ashot I becomes the first Georgian Bagratid prince of Iberia under the Byzantine protection.

Europe

Louis the Pious is crowned co-emperor of the Franks with his father Charlemagne.
The Bulgars capture Adrianople.
Forces from today's Denmark attack today's Vestfold due to insubordination.

Asia

Fourth Fitna: The Siege of Baghdad ends with the fall of the city and the death of al-Amin, making al-Mamun the undisputed Abbasid caliph.
The Baghdad School of Astronomy is opened by al-Mamun.


wrong year... try again.
 
2013-01-21 08:20:36 PM
Somebody with more arithmetic than understanding is going to add "hit the Earth 1235 years ago" and "less than 1,000 light years away" and declare that the two neutron stars colliding was the new star heralding the birth of Jesus.
 
2013-01-21 08:42:34 PM

Ficoce: Were aliens involved? I don't know why people that write articles about space can't include a line at the bottom that says, "Aliens were probably not involved during this event." They might want to mention God, too. Wait; is God an alien? I have to think about this, so nobody start adding this to their space articles yet. Ok?


3.bp.blogspot.com
 
2013-01-21 09:11:09 PM

Millennium: What I find interesting about this finding is that gamma-ray bursts have for some time been a classic life-ending disaster scenario: the sort of thing that causes massive extinctions and ends nearly all life on Earth (or, depending on who you ask, potentially all of it). This hypothesis, if true, would mean that we got smacked at essentially point-blank range by one, but nothing much happened. Either that was one weak ass-gamma burst, or they aren't actually the massive threat once believed.


This hypothesis estimates the distance of the GRB as between 3000 and 13,000 light years. Point-blank range would be closer to 100 light years, and at that distance it would probably do a lot of damage. But if it were far enough away it wouldn't have any direct impact on life. Of course, as the article also pointed out, if that were to happen today it would destroy our satellites and melt our power grids. So no mass extinctions but human civilization would be farked up.
 
2013-01-21 09:17:44 PM

ferretman: Is it possible to determine where the Earth was in relation to it's location in the solar system and be able to determine the direction this burst supposedly came from? Then they could scan that area and see if the could actually detect anything.


It would be very interesting to see if science can narrow it down to a more precise date range. According to TFA, the current estimate is about a two-year window. I'd think that in order to narrow it down to a section of space that could be closely and easily observed, that window would have to be about a week, perhaps two.

That's not to say it cannot happen, though. For example, I find it fascinating that geologists were able to trace the last mega earthquake along the Cascadia zone (Washington and Oregon) to about an 8-hour window on the evening of January 1, 1700, in part by using a combination of Native American and Japanese documentation of the earthquake and resultant tsunami. But, in this case, there were two big advantages: (1) That event was relatively recent, and many cultures were documenting their weather and geological events as they occurred; and (2) There was something directly observable (i.e., higher or lower land elevation, or increased tides many thousands of miles away).

People of the era when the GRB was supposed to have hit Earth were not nearly so sophisticated; they spent much of their time being afraid of the sun, so careful documentation probably wouldn't be in the cards. Plus, I'm not sure if there would even be anything observable, if what the author said is true (a two-second flash). Even if there was a culture back then that could rationally document such an event, some random circumstance (such as an overcast day) would easily FUBAR everything.
 
2013-01-21 11:14:51 PM
Happened 1200 years ago, but unlikely to happen again for hundreds of thousands of years.

Would you buy insurance from this person's company?
 
2013-01-21 11:54:28 PM

SwiftFox: Happened 1200 years ago, but unlikely to happen again for hundreds of thousands of years.

Would you buy insurance from this person's company?


Lloyds of London sold Sputnik insurance, so anything's possible.
 
2013-01-22 12:50:21 AM

Neondistraction: Millennium: What I find interesting about this finding is that gamma-ray bursts have for some time been a classic life-ending disaster scenario: the sort of thing that causes massive extinctions and ends nearly all life on Earth (or, depending on who you ask, potentially all of it). This hypothesis, if true, would mean that we got smacked at essentially point-blank range by one, but nothing much happened. Either that was one weak ass-gamma burst, or they aren't actually the massive threat once believed.

This hypothesis estimates the distance of the GRB as between 3000 and 13,000 light years. Point-blank range would be closer to 100 light years, and at that distance it would probably do a lot of damage. But if it were far enough away it wouldn't have any direct impact on life. Of course, as the article also pointed out, if that were to happen today it would destroy our satellites and melt our power grids. So no mass extinctions but human civilization would be farked up.


Good thing that the survivors will not have guns.
 
2013-01-22 02:19:56 AM

Cup_O_Jo: Scary tag? Hey subby everyone LIVED...


I don't know about that...
 
2013-01-22 03:36:31 AM

Kibbler: The author certainly has located the exclamation point on his keyboard!


I wish a gamma-ray burst would've disabled that, as well. It's Bad Astronomy, not Teen Beat.
 
2013-01-22 05:26:09 AM

Valiente: Kibbler: The author certainly has located the exclamation point on his keyboard!

I wish a gamma-ray burst would've disabled that, as well. It's Bad Astronomy, not Teen Beat.


Ah, cut the guy a break. He was excited. It's not like he routinely abuses it.
 
2013-01-22 06:25:31 AM
Huh. It's not very scary if it didn't have any effects on humans.
 
2013-01-22 08:16:46 AM

Ficoce: Wait; is God an alien?


Well, he isn't "from" Earth (he may have created it, but, AFAIK he is no from "here"), and he is a "being", so, I'll go with "God is an Alien".
 
2013-01-22 09:04:11 AM

common sense is an oxymoron: So Japan would have been in the direct line of sight and received the maximum concentration of radionuclides immediately, while Europe and America were not directly affected and would only have received whatever blew in on the wind over a period of time.


Japan was the target then Ehh?
So not Early Medieval European Hulk. End of Yamato/beginning of Fujiwara period Godzilla then. Hmm..
 
2013-01-22 09:13:09 AM

Neondistraction: Valiente: Kibbler: The author certainly has located the exclamation point on his keyboard!

I wish a gamma-ray burst would've disabled that, as well. It's Bad Astronomy, not Teen Beat.

Ah, cut the guy a break. He was excited. It's not like he routinely abuses it.


It's probably just suggestive that his only editor is Office Spell Check. Actual humans used to proof and trim copy prior to publication, but electrons aren't seen as publication and Slate is probably run on the budget of the average bodega, so...
 
2013-01-22 09:26:57 AM
Yatima and the rest of Carter-Zimmerman polis will investigate this thoroughly, if they can convince the bridgers to help.

/every time I see GRB mentioned anywhere, that's the first thing that comes to mind
//who is thinking these thoughts? i am.
 
2013-01-22 10:05:57 AM

encyclopediaplushuman: SwiftFox: Happened 1200 years ago, but unlikely to happen again for hundreds of thousands of years.

Would you buy insurance from this person's company?

Lloyds of London sold Sputnik insurance, so anything's possible.


Lloyds of London will ensure ANYTHING. yes ANYTHING. Why? because like Ned Flanders they realize insurance is simply gambling.
 
2013-01-22 08:17:18 PM

hdhale: Still doesn't explain the stars and galaxies we can detect many, many millions of light years away.


Nah, they've already done that, including "God made the universe with the light IN TRANSIT", to "The speed of light was drastically different in the early days of the bible, just like people lived drastically longer!!"
 
2013-01-23 03:48:14 AM
www.actingcompany.org
 
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