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Nearby, Recent Interplanetary Collision Inferred

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the when-worlds-collide dept.

Space 88

The Bad Astronomer writes about a new discovery by the Spitzer Space Telescope, which detected signs of an interplanetary smashup only 100 light-years from here, and only a few thousand years ago. There's a NASA-produced animation of the collision between a Mercury-sized planet and a moon-sized impactor. The collision's aftermath was detected by the presence of what are essentially glass shards in orbit around the star. Here's NASA's writeup.

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cocks (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29018259)

Is GNAA still alive?

Neat video, but not very accurate (5, Interesting)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018263)

the guy posting the blog states: "the shock wave ring travels around the planet as shown, but when the ring converges on the point opposite the collision point, there would be a huge explosion and a vast plume of material launched into space. No one ever puts that in their animations"

I thought the same thing when I watched the video - there would be a godawful explosion at the antipode

Re:Neat video, but not very accurate (3, Interesting)

JuzzFunky (796384) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018447)

It is interesting that the animation shows a direct hit head on collision rather than a glancing blow. Most of matter from the planet and impactor seems to combine into a single mass. Would a glancing blow that shatters the impactor result in more debris?

Re:Neat video, but not very accurate (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 5 years ago | (#29025835)

It is interesting that the animation shows a direct hit head on collision rather than a glancing blow. Most of matter from the planet and impactor seems to combine into a single mass. Would a glancing blow that shatters the impactor result in more debris?

Yes. Remember that Earth-like planets are liquid blobs with a shell that's thinner than an egg's. A glancing blow would spray lots of debris out to one side. That's how the moon formed when Earth was hit 4 billion years ago.

Re:Neat video, but not very accurate (5, Informative)

JohnnyDanger (680986) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018511)

The impact on Mercury which created the Caloris basin caused some wacky geology at the antipodal point to the collision. This is called "chaotic" or "weird" terrain. Link [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Neat video, but not very accurate (4, Interesting)

pintpusher (854001) | more than 5 years ago | (#29019153)

I immediately wondered if there were any such antipodal geology evident on earth. A quick google turned up this presentation [newgeology.us] which is pretty darn interesting. IANAGeologist, and can't speak to the accuracy of the claims, but it's still darn cool!

Re:Neat video, but not very accurate (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 5 years ago | (#29019765)

...and on a site of apparent supporter of most fringe proposals that are promoted by religious nutjobs or those that feel peer review is unfair.

Re:Neat video, but not very accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29020439)

Johnny Danger is just doing his homework.

Re:Neat video, but not very accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29020471)

Oops, I meant pintpusher. In any case, dude needs credit for his intelligent design class.

Re:Neat video, but not very accurate (1)

pintpusher (854001) | more than 5 years ago | (#29023561)

yikes! I sure didn't do my homework. I should have looked around there some more. I certainly don't mean to promote such wackery. I am shamed.

Re:Neat video, but not very accurate (1)

mykdavies (1369) | more than 5 years ago | (#29025545)

I'd be wary of the quality of the interpretation and presentation of science on that site; from the homepage, Shock Dynamics is "A new geology theory featuring impact-powered rapid continental drift as an alternative to plate tectonics. The key to creation geology."

Re:Neat video, but not very accurate (1)

pintpusher (854001) | more than 5 years ago | (#29039535)

yeah. sorry. I completely failed to look properly.

Re:Neat video, but not very accurate (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018521)

I should imagine the kinetic enery would travel fastest in a direct line through the object, followed shortly later by the secondary shockwave effects. This would give more of a fountain eruption at the antipode, and more escaping ejecta. I can't wait until they get footage of this happening, rather than an animated model of what it might look like.

Re:Neat video, but not very accurate (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018617)

You mean worse than at the point of impact? ;)

Re:Neat video, but not very accurate (1)

Deosyne (92713) | more than 5 years ago | (#29027109)

Depends. You want to be squished or ejected into space? ;)

Re:Neat video, but not very accurate (1)

Buddy the WIld Geek (978961) | more than 5 years ago | (#29034155)

You know...like people who don't want seatbelts say, "I want to be thrown clear."

Re:Neat video, but not very accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29019111)

The video looks like it is correct.

The physical explanation for why this happens has to do with the inertia of the two bodies. Also, there would be no explosion on the opposite side because nuclear forces are causing the explosions, and there is no collision on the "safe" side of the planet.

The shock wave is just a bunch of nuclear explosions along the crust. Huge explosions in the middle would eject material outward rather than push it against a hard, inner surface, because the planet's center is likely very heavy.

Did I mention explosion?

Google ads on youtube videos (-1, Offtopic)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018265)

Google is trying to flog me glass repair and weight loss services.

Wow! (1)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018271)

100 light-years! Boy that barely missed us, better put on your hardhats boys because the next mash up is said to be only 80 light-years away!

Re:Wow! (1)

TimSSG (1068536) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018345)

100 light-years! Boy that barely missed us, better put on your hardhats boys because the next mash up is said to be only 80 light-years away!

Yeah, but if it is in the opposite direction that is an average of a 10 light-years away.
Tim S.

Re:Wow! (2, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018391)

100 light-years! Boy that barely missed us, better put on your hardhats boys because the next mash up is said to be only 80 light-years away!

We should hope that whoever engineered this is not heading our way.

Re:Wow! (4, Funny)

icebike (68054) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018571)

Hay, you have nothing to complain about. The notice was published in the Galactic Gazette by the Vogon destructor fleet for several centuries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hitchhiker's_Guide_to_the_Galaxy [wikipedia.org]

Re:Wow! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018611)

Its not like I can just drive to the local planning office in Alpha Centauri.

Re:Wow! (2, Funny)

laejoh (648921) | more than 5 years ago | (#29019917)

Hey, if you can't be bothered to take an interest in local affairs that's your own lookout.

Re:Wow! (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#29022017)

It's called a deathstar, and as long as we have Han Solo, we are ok!

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29024727)

100 light-years! Boy that barely missed us, better put on your hardhats boys because the next mash up is said to be only 80 light-years away!

We should hope that whoever engineered this is not heading our way.

Don't worry - the Arisians are on our side.

Re:Wow! (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 5 years ago | (#29019637)

100 light-years! Boy that barely missed us, better put on your hardhats boys because the next mash up is said to be only 80 light-years away!

WHOOSH.

That's not the sound of you missing a joke. That's the sound of the planet flying above your head.

Let me be the first to say it (0, Offtopic)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018351)

"Just what are you inferring?" *annoyed look*

Re:Let me be the first to say it (1)

Astrorunner (316100) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018453)

"I'm not inferring anything. You infer; I imply."

Re:Let me be the first to say it (1)

OakDragon (885217) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018927)

"I'm not inferring anything. You infer; I imply."

"Imply, Lisa? Or implode?"

And nothing of value got lost? (5, Funny)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018363)

The civilization that was living in that planet is traveling to a little blue planet that was nearby at a modest 100 light years. Invasion is scheduled for next Tuesday.

Re:And nothing of value got lost? (2, Funny)

INeededALogin (771371) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018477)

The civilization that was living in that planet is traveling to a little blue planet that was nearby at a modest 100 light years. Invasion is scheduled for next Tuesday.

Little did we know... District 13 was filmed with no computer animations at all.

Re:And nothing of value got lost? (1)

Pulse_Instance (698417) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018561)

The civilization that was living in that planet is traveling to a little blue planet that was nearby at a modest 100 light years. Invasion is scheduled for next Tuesday. Little did we know... District 13 was filmed with no computer animations at all.

Can I borrow the machine they used to travel in time then?

Re:And nothing of value got lost? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29018743)

There's no need for time travel. An FTL drive (time machine) would have allowed them to arrive before the impact was visible here, a "few thousand years ago." Which, thanks to relativity, would mean they'd arrive before it happened.
  Arriving next tuesday means they've got a drive on their generation ship that can hit a little over .1c or so - crossing about one light year every ten years. Impressive, but not a time machine.

Re:And nothing of value got lost? (2, Insightful)

nextekcarl (1402899) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018785)

FTL would only make them think the trip was shorter, not make them go back in time.

Re:And nothing of value got lost? (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018901)

Relativistic speed (

FTL speed (> 1.0c) makes them go back in time.

Re:And nothing of value got lost? (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018915)

that was supposed to be: "Relativistic speed (< 1.0c) makes them think the trip was shorter, not go back in time."

I used an actual less-than, so it thought it was an html tab

Re:And nothing of value got lost? (2, Informative)

thasmudyan (460603) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021367)

Having an FTL drive doesn't mean it's a time machine. The actual method of travel is important here. It's impractical to go at relativistic speeds that are a considerable fraction of the speed of light, and it's pretty darn impossible to accelerate even beyond 99% of c. Theoretically, going faster than c could mean going back in time, but there is simply no way to accelerate normal matter in this fashion.

It's very likely any FTL drive technology would have to employ other means, like bending spacetime so the external distance traveled is way bigger than the subjective distance for the spacecraft in question. This could be done with a wormhole-like mechanism for example. Whether or not time flows differently for the travelers (relative to the galactic frame of reference) depends entirely on the details of this technology that we do not yet have access to.

For example, if I arrive at Alpha Centauri in two minutes from now, and come back to Earth in two more minutes Earth time, that doesn't necessarily mean I have traveled back in time 8 years. It just means there is no way I could have done that as a lump of ordinary matter traversing the entire distance through normal space.

Yeah it kinda does. (2, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#29023443)

Having an FTL drive doesn't mean it's a time machine. The actual method of travel is important here.

Yes actually FTL does mean you have a time machine, and the method of travel doesn't really matter. It's not like a Back to the Future time where you can arbitrarily go backwards and forwards as far as you want, it's limited to past-only and by how far and fast you can actually travel and how fast your non-superluminal spaceships can travel. But from some observer's reference frame you will have traveled back in time and broken causality by arriving at your destination before you left, simply by moving faster than c relative to them.

And if you incorporate a second FTL journey, it's actually possible to arrive at your starting point before you left according to all reference frames.

Here's an explanation [wikipedia.org] . There's a nice explanation with graphs and everything . [theculture.org]

Note that it does not depend on Lorentz Transformation of the super-luminal traveler/communication. The mechanism isn't important. That observers in normal, relativistic reference frames see you traveling faster than c is what is important. If you can do that, you can go back in time.

Whether or not time flows differently for the travelers (relative to the galactic frame of reference) depends entirely on the details of this technology that we do not yet have access to.

Time may pass differently for the travelers relative to some reference frame, but remember there are no privileged reference frames in Relativity. You can break causality if you go FTL relative to any reference frame, and if you aren't traveling FTL with respect to any reference frame, then you can't really be said to be traveling FTL can you?

Re:Yeah it kinda does. (2, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#29023481)

Oops, my second link to the page with nice graphs [theculture.org] was hidden in a period. The explanation on that page uses instantaneous communication as its example for clarity and simplicity, but all you really need to do is break out of the light cone and you can potentially break causality with time travel.

Does not :-P (1)

thasmudyan (460603) | more than 5 years ago | (#29023633)

But from some observer's reference frame you will have traveled back in time and broken causality by arriving at your destination before you left, simply by moving faster than c relative to them.

If that were true, quantum entanglement would break causality. Actually, what we perceive as causality is a symptom, not the cause. Hence it's an illegal assumption that time travel would _have_ to occur every time local effects shift (for lack of a better word) between two points in space faster than it would take a photon to traverse.

Time may pass differently for the travelers relative to some reference frame, but remember there are no privileged reference frames in Relativity. You can break causality if you go FTL relative to any reference frame, and if you aren't traveling FTL with respect to any reference frame, then you can't really be said to be traveling FTL can you?

I think most people here, including possibly myself, already know about relativistic effects, there is no need to preach. The whole discussion was _not_ based on the idea of actually accelerating any quantity of matter to causality-breaking, faster-than-light speeds to begin with. There is simply no propulsion system that can do that. What we may be able to build, however, is a system that achieves the same effect by bending spacetime in a very neat way. This is what SciFi nerds call FTL. It's a theoretical system with theoretical properties. But _if_ it works, it's not a time machine simply because it teleports matter between two points "faster" than it would take a ray of light to do so.

Absolutely does. (2, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#29024597)

If that were true, quantum entanglement would break causality.

Not it wouldn't, because nothing is traveling faster than c in entanglement, not even information. In fact, it is exactly for the reason I'm describing that demonstrates why quantum entanglement can't be used to send information. Nor can any effect resulting from the entanglement being collapsed on the "other end" be distinguishable from it collapsing on your end. There is no possibility of breaking causality.

However macroscopic-you traveling FTL most definitely involves transferring mass and information and thus causality can be broken.

Actually, what we perceive as causality is a symptom, not the cause. Hence it's an illegal assumption that time travel would _have_ to occur every time local effects shift (for lack of a better word) between two points in space faster than it would take a photon to traverse.

Actually, causality is one of the basic assumptions of Relativity. That's how Einstein ended up arriving at the conclusion that nothing can travel faster than light. He assumed causality was inviolate, and he assumed that c was constant for all observers. It was the latter notion that led to the idea that different observers could see things happening at different times. And this led to the notion that if one could travel faster than c, some observer would see effect happen before cause, violating causality.

And I didn't say time travel necessarily had to happen in any particular instance of FTL. I said FTL necessarily allows for time travel. Which, if you look, every reference agrees with.

I think most people here, including possibly myself, already know about relativistic effects, there is no need to preach. The whole discussion was _not_ based on the idea of actually accelerating any quantity of matter to causality-breaking, faster-than-light speeds to begin with. There is simply no propulsion system that can do that. What we may be able to build, however, is a system that achieves the same effect by bending spacetime in a very neat way. This is what SciFi nerds call FTL. It's a theoretical system with theoretical properties. But _if_ it works, it's not a time machine simply because it teleports matter between two points "faster" than it would take a ray of light to do so.

Yes I understand that and I thought I was pretty clear in stating that I was not referring to an object accelerated past c. Any method of travel which appears to be super-luminal to any observer breaks causality. The poster was suggesting a method where some observer would agree that you traveled FTL, yet because you didn't "really" go FTL you get around Einstein's conclusion. That simply isn't true.

Energy-wise, accelerating anything to c is impossible. Causality-wise, going faster than c by any method is impossible. I'm a Sci-Fi nerd, and hey it's neat to think about warp driving letting you get FTL without actually having to accelerate to make it seem semi-plausible. Nevertheless, even though it doesn't work that way in Star Trek, warp drive allows time travel.

In order for it to really work, we need more than just warp drive. We also need to violate Relativity. Either causality is not inviolate, and time travel is really possible, or some other assumption of Relativity is broken. That's always possible, sure, but in a Relativistic universe, FTL == Time Travel. Seriously, look it up.

Re:Absolutely does. (1)

khayman80 (824400) | more than 5 years ago | (#29025207)

Causality-wise, going faster than c by any method is impossible.

I've already responded to the parent agreeing with most of your position. However, I think this statement goes a little far. FTL travel almost certainly implies time travel, but relativity only makes a preferred frame seemingly unnecessary given current observations. It doesn't rule out a preferred frame altogether.

Also, violating causality is a good reason to be suspicious of a phenomenon, but I don't think it deserves the "impossible" label. Grandfather paradoxes are (IMHO) the only reason to doubt the possibility of breaking causality, and the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics eliminates these paradoxes.

Re:Absolutely does. (2, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#29026959)

However, I think this statement goes a little far. FTL travel almost certainly implies time travel, but relativity only makes a preferred frame seemingly unnecessary given current observations. It doesn't rule out a preferred frame altogether.

Relativity is predicated on the assumption that there is no preferred reference frame. It is because of that assumption that many of the laws of Relativity are required to ensure that it is the case. If there was a preferred reference frame such that the laws of physics only had to apply to it, but causality could be broken elsewhere, then the Theory of Relativity would be very different.

Also, violating causality is a good reason to be suspicious of a phenomenon, but I don't think it deserves the "impossible" label.

It's impossible in the Relativistic Universe. It is always possible that Relativity is wrong, and that its assumptions are wrong. Hell, Newton was wrong about his basic and seemingly safe assumption that time was the same for all observers (and I hear he was even smart enough to recognize he was making that assumption and write it down). Maybe causality can be broken. The implications for physics would be profound.

Things like Warp Drives are ways to get around the limitations of Relativity without it having to be "wrong" in the hypothetical universe. But it doesn't work.

Grandfather paradoxes are (IMHO) the only reason to doubt the possibility of breaking causality, and the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics eliminates these paradoxes.

I'm going to wait until we unify QM and GR before I agree with that. It isn't clear to me at all that having a loop in causality in your spacetime graph would necessarily mean you have a separate outcome from some quantum waveform collapse such that you are in a different universe at the "end" of the loop vs the "beginning". There is nothing in Relativity (obviously) that would require that to be the case, and there wouldn't be a "end" or "beginning" either.

I'm also going to wait until we have some reason to actually prefer the many world interpretation over others before I agree with that. Just because it would be convenient for solving time travel paradoxes in a universe where FTL travel is possible doesn't mean its actually true. Seems more likely (as in agrees with current best theory) that time travel (and thus FTL) is simply impossible.

Re:Absolutely does. (1)

khayman80 (824400) | more than 5 years ago | (#29028099)

If there was a preferred reference frame such that the laws of physics only had to apply to it, but causality could be broken elsewhere, then the Theory of Relativity would be very different.

Yes, but like Newtonian mechanics, modern relativity would still be a useful first order approximation. Plus, to the best of my knowledge relativity has only rarely been tested to more than first order effects.

I'm also going to wait until we have some reason to actually prefer the many world interpretation over others before I agree with that. Just because it would be convenient for solving time travel paradoxes in a universe where FTL travel is possible doesn't mean its actually true.

I agree; at the moment there's no watertight reason to prefer one interpretation over another. But the alternatives are hidden variables (local variables are ruled out by Bell inequality experiments and nonlocal variables would violate relativity), or the literal Copenhagen interpretation. (There are others, but these are the most popular.)

The Copenhagen interpretation is almost certainly wrong [lesswrong.com] . (My only correction to his list is that #6 also applies to the No Hair theorem.)

Re:Absolutely does. (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#29029087)

Yes, but like Newtonian mechanics, modern relativity would still be a useful first order approximation. Plus, to the best of my knowledge relativity has only rarely been tested to more than first order effects.

Well what I mean is that the Theory of Relativity only looks anything like it does due to the absence of a preferred reference frame. Newton's Laws are only a good approximation because its basic assumption that time is constant is approximately true for normal speeds/masses. It's difficult to see how "There is no preferred reference frame" could be approximately true, but all the conclusions of Relativity stem from that being exactly true. Without that assumption it wouldn't be even approximately like it is now. And it seems too inherent, too good an assumption, to be turned over but still have the theory hold any water at all. Much like the classical Conservation of Energy has survived the transition to GR and QM, I suspect "all reference frames are equal" will continue to hold true.

On the other hand, I'll admit I have a hard time imagining what a universe without causality would be like. Much like I'm sure people looking at Einstein's theory had a hard time imagining a universe where time passed at different rates for different people.

We have tested Relativity to the extent of our ability to measure. It's extremely well tested. I'm not sure what second order effects your referring to, but if its possible for us to measure them, we have.

I agree; at the moment there's no watertight reason to prefer one interpretation over another. But the alternatives are hidden variables (local variables are ruled out by Bell inequality experiments and nonlocal variables would violate relativity), or the literal Copenhagen interpretation. (There are others, but these are the most popular.)

We're already violating Relativity by allowing FTL even in theory, so I have no problem with that aspect. :P

The Copenhagen interpretation is almost certainly wrong. (My only correction to his list is that #6 also applies to the No Hair theorem.)

I've always hated the Copenhagen Interpretation because it always seemed like a scientific argument based on puns.

Re:Does not :-P (1)

khayman80 (824400) | more than 5 years ago | (#29025031)

But _if_ it works, it's not a time machine simply because it teleports matter between two points "faster" than it would take a ray of light to do so.

No, he's actually right [dumbscientist.com] - any FTL drive combined with a mundane conventional drive can be used to travel back in time.

If that were true, quantum entanglement would break causality.

Entanglement [dumbscientist.com] isn't a causal phenomenon.

Re:And nothing of value got lost? (1)

mcatrage (1274730) | more than 5 years ago | (#29023439)

District 9 maybe. Unless these are aliens who do parkour which would be cool.

Re:And nothing of value got lost? (5, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018559)

The civilization that was living in that planet is traveling to a little blue planet that was nearby at a modest 100 light years. Invasion is scheduled for next Tuesday.

Thankfully the invasion was called off when the aliens learned of mankind's secret weapons: lawyers, building permits and environmental impact statements. Said Fleetlord Atvar, "We came here looking to save our race, not to spend the next two hundred years filling out paperwork. We'll find a new home somewhere else, thank you very much."

Re:And nothing of value got lost? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29019053)

The civilization that was living in that planet is traveling to a little blue planet that was nearby at a modest 100 light years. Invasion is scheduled for next Tuesday.

Thankfully the invasion was called off when the aliens learned of mankind's secret weapons: lawyers, building permits and environmental impact statements. Said Fleetlord Atvar, "We came here looking to save our race, not to spend the next two hundred years filling out paperwork. We'll find a new home somewhere else, thank you very much."

Best misquote of a Harry Turtledove novel I ever read (it was my first)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/index.html?curid=5740554 [slashdot.org]

Re:And nothing of value got lost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29019361)

If they're asking permission it's not an invasion.

Re:And nothing of value got lost? (1)

RabidMoose (746680) | more than 5 years ago | (#29024157)

The hell of it is, we could have really used the tax revenue they would have brought in.

Re:And nothing of value got lost? (5, Funny)

gijoel (628142) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018643)

Not the civilization per se. Just the infant son of the leading scientist who tried to warn them of the impact.

My calculation predict that he'll land somewhere in Kansas.

Re:And nothing of value got lost? (5, Funny)

StickANeedleInMyEye (1253490) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018833)

The civilization that was living in that planet is traveling to a little blue planet that was nearby at a modest 100 light years. Invasion is scheduled for next Tuesday.

Actually they landed here ~4 million years ago but accidentally killed the dinosaurs while landing their pyramids.

Re:And nothing of value got lost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29018847)

Unfortunately the invasion is necessary, as with the male half of their population killed off in the explosion, the large-chested, blue-skinned all-female crew of the colony ship, just awakening from their hibernation, can't take the risk that the natives won't want to mate with them. ...

Mmm... ...

Oh, sorry, I drifted off there. Was I saying something?

Re:And nothing of value got lost? (3, Funny)

Alarindris (1253418) | more than 5 years ago | (#29019011)

Invasion is scheduled for next Tuesday.

Must be waiting for Microsoft to releasing a patch for their retrocatalytic ion phaser driver.

Re:And nothing of value got lost? (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 5 years ago | (#29025883)

I loved the comment about Kryptonite and how the author of the original paper asked if anyone has a Kryptonite infrared spectrum so he can check :)

Infidels (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29018411)

There's no such thing as "planets colliding" you infidels. The great FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER is just putting the empirical evidence on scientists telescopes to test your faith. And you are all failing Slashdotters.

Beware. There's only one God.

Re:Infidels (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29018467)

The great test on Slashdot moderation system. Who was stupid enough to mod parent flamebait.

Actually... (2, Funny)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018439)

That's no moon.

Re:Actually... (1)

badzilla (50355) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021073)

I can't believe I had to scroll so far down looking for this!

Re:Actually... (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#29027997)

I can't believe I had to scroll so far down looking for this!

No kidding. I almost lost faith in the geeks here at Slashdot... .phew.

A question for interstellar arms dealers... (1)

Evil_Ether (1200695) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018553)

Why have we never seen any sci fi dooms day weapons of the quality?

Re:A question for interstellar arms dealers... (2, Informative)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018651)

There are probably more efficient ways of wiping out life than pouring on the order of 10^30 joules into accelerating a gigantic impactor.

Re:A question for interstellar arms dealers... (5, Funny)

Evil_Ether (1200695) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018681)

More efficient ways yes, but more satisfying?

Re:A question for interstellar arms dealers... (1)

StickANeedleInMyEye (1253490) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018933)

too bad the LHC is only @ 50% or we could do the same to ourselves

Relativistic Impactors (2, Interesting)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 5 years ago | (#29019087)

There are probably more efficient ways of wiping out life than pouring on the order of 10^30 joules into accelerating a gigantic impactor.

Put the same energy into lots of small relativistic impactors. Craft the trajectory so that the acceleration phase is masked by nearby stars. Distribute the impactors so that all orbital installations and both sides of all inhabited bodies are blanketed with enough energy to raise the temperature to 500 degrees celsius for all biomes. Time them, so that they all arrive at the same time. The victims will have only minutes of advance warning, if any at all. (Idea from _The Killing Star_)

Re:Relativistic Impactors (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#29019183)

What's the point if it still uses the same energy? Anyway a single small relativistic impactor would probably inflict massive damage. You don't need to strip the crust off a world to render it uninhabitable.

From Roger Zelazny's "Isle of the Dead" (2, Interesting)

denzacar (181829) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018805)

There is a place. It is a place where broken rocks ring a red sun.
Several centuries ago, we discovered a race of arthropod-like creatures called Whilles, with whom we could not deal.
They rejected friendly overtures on the parts of every known intelligent race. Also, they slew our emissaries and sent their remains back to us, missing a few pieces here and there.
When first we contacted them, they possessed vehicles for travel within their own solar system. Shortly thereafter, they developed interstellar travel.
Wherever they went, they killed and they stole and then beat it back home.
Perhaps they didn't realize the size of the interstellar community at that time, or perhaps they didn't care.
They guessed right if they thought it would take an awfully long time to reach an accord when it came to declaring war on them.
There is actually very little precedent for interstellar war. The Pei'ans are about the only ones who remember any..
So the attacks failed, what remained of our forces were withdrawn, and we began to bombard the planet.
The Whilles were, however, further along technologically than we'd initially thought. They had a near-perfect defense system against missiles.
So we withdrew and tried to contain them. They didn't stop their raids, though.
Then the Names were contacted, and three worldscapers, Sang-ring of Greldei, Karth'ting of Mordei and I, were chosen by lot to use our abilities in reverse.
Later, within the system of the Whilles, beyond the orbit of their home world, a belt of asteroids began to collapse upon itself, forming a planetoid.
Rock by rock, it grew, and slowly it altered its course. We sat, with our machinery, beyond the orbit of the farthest planet, directing the new world's growth and its slow spiral inward.
When the Whilles realized what was happening, they tried to destroy it.
But it was too late. They never asked for mercy, and none of them tried to flee. They waited, and the day came.
The orbits of the two worlds intersected, and now it is a place where broken rocks ring a red sun. I stayed drunk for a week after that.

http://www.amazon.com/Isle-Dead-Eye-Roger-Zelazny/dp/0743434684/ [amazon.com]

Re:From Roger Zelazny's "Isle of the Dead" (1)

Zapo_Verde (1406221) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018871)

I'm going to have to start reading him again.

Re:From Roger Zelazny's "Isle of the Dead" (1)

Opyros (1153335) | more than 5 years ago | (#29019589)

His short pieces are currently being reprinted in hardcover [nesfa.org] . I have the four volumes (out of six) which have come out so far.

Paper Mache Cone (1)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018931)

Doomsday Devices come in all shapes and sizes. Like this paper mache cone [slashdot.org] .

Re:A question for interstellar arms dealers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29019513)

Why have we never seen any sci fi dooms day weapons of the quality?

What quality? I happen to like the quality of blueness. Also the quality of "cheesy" especially in regards to food and movies.

Re:A question for interstellar arms dealers... (1)

Dragoness Eclectic (244826) | more than 5 years ago | (#29026123)

Please turn in your geek card until you've read E. E. Smith's "Lensman" series.

Then you will know about "sunbeams" and "dirigible planets", and can stop asking foolish questions like the above.

From the NASA writeup (4, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018735)

Giant impacts are thought to have stripped Mercury of its outer crust, tipped Uranus on its side and spun Venus backward, to name a few examples

Is it just me or is that coolest thing ever? Forget massive trains [imageshack.us] .. the male mind cannot help but drool at the idea of planets colliding.

Venus is awesome; I can't even imagine what that would look like. The impactor rapidly accelerating the rock around it while the rock on the other side of the planet crumples and deforms under titanic pressure. Maybe the crust would be rigid enough to accelerate rapidly in big chunks while the big oceans of rock in the mantle churn and slowly come up to speed.. or maybe it would just blast most of the mass spaceward, leaving the planet to be pelted by continent-sized rocks for the next thousand years..

But undoubtedly Uranus is the coolest collision. Gas giants are already terrifying (imagine falling straight down into the north pole of Jupiter, falling straight into the bullseye of roaring winds and bottomless stormclouds).. but a mass large enough to alter its inclination exploding through the upper atmosphere as a fireball, and slowly ablating as it buries itself deeper into progressively denser gases, and plunging deeper and deeper into the unplumbed depths of unimaginably violent, raging, endless storms, and finally sinking to the crushing depths of the great core furnace.. come on Hollywood, put your obscene special effects budget to use doing something like this.

Re:From the NASA writeup (2, Funny)

trouser (149900) | more than 5 years ago | (#29018777)

...plunging deeper and deeper into the unplumbed depths of unimaginably violent, raging, endless storms, and finally sinking to the crushing depths of the great core furnace.

Like when you're with a lady.

Re:From the NASA writeup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29018795)

i died.

Re:From the NASA writeup (1)

mkarcher (136108) | about 5 years ago | (#29135421)

I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets moments of existential dread from gas giants.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:790106-0203_Voyager_58M_to_31M_reduced.gif [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PIA04866_modest.jpg [wikipedia.org]

Don't get me started on the Deep Fields...

OMG The Meteor movie is true! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29018945)

There'll be an old guy that dies and a hot girl with a Toughbook that's going to have a really tough few days soon trying to get to JPL...

Reminds me of... (1)

florescent_beige (608235) | more than 5 years ago | (#29019277)

That animation reminds me of a job interview I had once...

Mished? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29019297)

Reminds me of a scene from Red Dwarf [youtube.com] .

Bad Astronomy? More like Bad Statistics. (2, Insightful)

NF6X (725054) | more than 5 years ago | (#29019871)

TFA wrote:

And there's another thing that I find personally very cool. Remember, HD 172555 is only 100 light years away. That is extremely close on a galactic scale (our galaxy is 100,000 light years across, so this star is our next door neighbor). It seems incredibly unlikely that this is a rare event in the galaxy, since this happened so close by and so recently.

That's like saying "somebody living within five miles of me was struck by lightning last week, so it seems incredibly unlikely that being struck by lightning is a rare event on this planet". A single sample says nothing about the probability of the event, other than that it's nonzero.

Re:Bad Astronomy? More like Bad Statistics. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29020601)

What I would like to know is, did we see it?
We have been recording interesting astronomical events for "...the last few thousand years or so." So did it produce enough radiation [in the visible spectrum] to show up here?
How long do you reckon the spike in radiation lasted for, seconds, minutes, hours, days?

My wild guess is No [not more energetic that a very cold tiny spot on the surface of its' star] and minutes.

Re:Bad Astronomy? More like Bad Statistics. (1)

kayditty (641006) | more than 5 years ago | (#29045255)

I've always been dubious about these sorts of claims as well, but I think they know that. it seems like more of a probability statement ABOUT the probability rather than a probability itself. and whether that makes any logical sense, I can't say. tentatively, it seems to.

Star of Betlehem?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29020117)

The timing seem to be perfect for the star of Betlehem mentioned somewhere?

Hmm... sample of 1... (1)

VoidCrow (836595) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021221)

How many stars in a sphere of 100 light years radius from the Sun?

Re:Hmm... sample of 1... (3, Informative)

notmyusualnickname (1221732) | more than 5 years ago | (#29021793)

Approximately 14,600 [nasa.gov] .

You're far too trusting (1)

arkarumba (763047) | more than 5 years ago | (#29022391)

...as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced

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