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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 12
    More: Scary, Earth, gamma-ray bursts, gamma-ray, neutron stars, magnetars, light-years, Death from the Skies, supernova remnants  
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22583 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 09:11:09 PM  
2 votes:

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 03:15:07 PM  
2 votes:

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?


"HULK NO CHEESE-EATING SURRENDER MONKEY! RRAWWWRR!!!"
2013-01-21 09:17:44 PM  
1 votes:

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 06:03:08 PM  
1 votes:

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 04:05:44 PM  
1 votes:

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.
2013-01-21 03:49:59 PM  
1 votes:
So, I only watched like half of the first episode of "Revolution", but, the explanation in there he gives about "We'd all be fine, but, power grids and everything would be fried" sounds like it would be a semi-plausible explanation of the phenomena on the show.
2013-01-21 03:49:29 PM  
1 votes:
The Crab nebula is
1000 years old and more than 6000 light years way,

Something don't add up
2013-01-21 03:31:39 PM  
1 votes:
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.
2013-01-21 03:30:31 PM  
1 votes:

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?


Forget about Charlemagne, how about all of the Vikings? Where do you think "berserking" was all about?
2013-01-21 03:29:39 PM  
1 votes:
www.fanboy.com

/wanted for questioning.
2013-01-21 02:17:05 PM  
1 votes:
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?
2013-01-21 01:55:25 PM  
1 votes:
Did anyone Hulk out?
 
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