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Has a Biochem Undergrad Solved a Cosmic Radiation Mystery?

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the nice-work-scoob dept.

Space 156

scibri writes "A few weeks ago, reports of a mysterious spike in carbon-14 levels in Japanese tree rings corresponding to the year 775 intrigued astronomers. Such a spike could only have been caused by a massive supernova or solar flare, but there was no evidence of either of these at that time. Until Jonathon Allen, a biochem undergrad at UC Santa Cruz, Googled it. He found a reference in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to a 'red crucifix' appearing in the sky in 774, and speculates that it could have been a supernova hidden behind a cloud of dust, which could mask the remnants of the exploded star from astronomers today."

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156 comments

Jesus! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478175)

Holy crap!

Re:Jesus! (0)

Cryacin (657549) | about 2 years ago | (#40478193)

Caesar sure got around back then.

Re:Jesus! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478311)

Now someone should locate that death star to locate where Jesus went after his death. We have to send a spaceship there! Too bad this did not happen before the Prometheus movie ;)

Pics (1, Troll)

necro81 (917438) | about 2 years ago | (#40478251)

Uggghhh, the linked article only has some lame text, written in some script I can't decypher, in a language I cannot understand. Scholarship is too hard!

Pics or it didn't happen.

[tongue in cheek]

Re:Pics (4, Funny)

game kid (805301) | about 2 years ago | (#40478295)

The letters are Elvish, of an ancient mode, but the language is that of Mordor, which I will not utter here.

Re:Pics (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478335)

One again Steve is having masturbation fantasies about fucking elven girls with big tits.

Re:Pics (1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478887)

Or vagina.

Re:Pics (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40479063)

Nope. The letters are Roman, of a modern mode, and the language is that of England (or the U.S. variation thereof), which I will not utter here.

Re:Pics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40481395)

you DO know that Elvis is dead, do you?

Religious misinterpret phenomenon (-1, Troll)

i kan reed (749298) | about 2 years ago | (#40478263)

Centuries later, scientists figure out what actually happened using careful observation. Number of times this has happened: too many to count.

Re:Religious misinterpret phenomenon (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478463)

Number of times this has happened: too many to count.

That's not very scientific is it?

Re:Religious misinterpret phenomenon (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 2 years ago | (#40478471)

Centuries later, scientists figure out what actually happened using careful observation. Number of times this has happened: too many to count.

And most of these "observations" of weird stuff in the night sky were due to the aurorae. Even in modern light-polluted England where the telly rules the evenings, some people will always spot a decent aurora. Here are examples from England [nationalgeographic.com] and Scotland [bbcimg.co.uk] , which are nothing compared to those visible at higher geomagnetic latitudes.

Re:Religious misinterpret phenomenon (4, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#40479559)

And most of these "observations" of weird stuff in the night sky were due to the aurorae.

As opposed to today, where they are due to alcohol.

Re:Religious misinterpret phenomenon (4, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#40478983)

And yet, without the religious text, there wouldn't even be a written record of what happened at all. I'd say everyone wins.

Re:Religious misinterpret phenomenon (0, Flamebait)

SigmundFloyd (994648) | about 2 years ago | (#40480155)

And yet, without the religious text, there wouldn't even be a written record of what happened at all.

More likely, the event would have been recorded more objectively without all the religious bullsh^Wovertones.

Re:Religious misinterpret phenomenon (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | about 2 years ago | (#40480607)

And yet, without the religious text, there wouldn't even be a written record of what happened at all.

More likely, the event would have been recorded more objectively without all the religious bullsh^Wovertones.

By whom exactly? Your prejudice is showing.

Re:Religious misinterpret phenomenon (-1)

SigmundFloyd (994648) | about 2 years ago | (#40481619)

By whom exactly? Your prejudice is showing.

By the chroniclers of the time. Your religiousness is showing.

Re:Religious misinterpret phenomenon (0)

publiclurker (952615) | about 2 years ago | (#40481673)

By people who wouldn't have to worry about offending the religious idiots by recording something that offended their dogma. Your superstition is showing.

Holy shit you're slow (-1, Troll)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#40478265)

This was news like a month ago. If it weren't a horrible nightmare to find something on your failbook wall I could find the discussion we had about it there then.

Re:Holy shit you're slow (2)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#40479255)

Why go the facebook route?

The discussion is linked directly underneath the submission in the "related links" section.

Politics (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478291)

I am admin of futureeworld.blogspot.com .I like your blog and you write very nice things.I hope to come again.thanks.

Supernova? Dragon! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478315)

Is there also a mysterious layer of ash for the year 793? That year the chronicle has "fiery dragons flying across the firmament".

The word "dragon" used as a metaphor (2)

perpenso (1613749) | about 2 years ago | (#40479087)

Is there also a mysterious layer of ash for the year 793? That year the chronicle has "fiery dragons flying across the firmament".

And how might the people of that time and place describe near-miss asteroids that enter the atmosphere but do not impact the earth?

Perhaps the word "dragon" was not meant to be taken literally and was merely used as a metaphor, a literary device?

A few weeks ago in slashdot... (5, Informative)

kanto (1851816) | about 2 years ago | (#40478319)

A.D. 774. This year the Northumbrians banished their king, Alred, from York at Easter-tide; and chose Ethelred, the son of Mull, for their lord, who reigned four winters. This year also appeared in the heavens a red crucifix, after sunset; the Mercians and the men of Kent fought at Otford; and wonderful serpents were seen in the land of the South-Saxons.

http://omacl.org/Anglo/part2.html [omacl.org]

Twas' a comment by JustOk. [slashdot.org]

Re:A few weeks ago in slashdot... (5, Interesting)

scibri (2544842) | about 2 years ago | (#40478363)

Despite the best efforts of a few of us on the online team here, Nature is still pretty 'old media'. So if someone wants credit for an idea, they have to get it touch with us directly!

Re:A few weeks ago in slashdot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478533)

A.D. 774. This year the Northumbrians banished their king,
Alred, from York at Easter-tide; and chose Ethelred, the son of
Mull, for their lord, who reigned four winters. This year also
appeared in the heavens a red crucifix, after sunset; the
Mercians and the men of Kent fought at Otford; and wonderful
serpents were seen in the land of the South-Saxons.

http://omacl.org/Anglo/part2.html [omacl.org]

Twas' a comment by JustOk. [slashdot.org]

That's the proof of a supernova in 774?

Yeah, that's credible.

One wonders what the "wonderful serpents" were.

Re:A few weeks ago in slashdot... (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#40478927)

meteors falling from the sky?

Re:A few weeks ago in slashdot... (5, Informative)

Rogue Haggis Landing (1230830) | about 2 years ago | (#40479147)

That's the proof of a supernova in 774?

Yeah, that's credible.

One wonders what the "wonderful serpents" were.

You're simply not going to get a definitive record of a celestial event in 8th century Europe. Records are very scanty, often non-existent. This is so marked that it's led to an entertaining conspiracy theory [wikipedia.org] or two [wikipedia.org] claiming that the early Middle Ages didn't actually exist and were faked at some later date. Back in the real world, there's so little evidence for most things about Anglo-Saxon England that the claim that the people of York chose Ethelred, son of Mull to be their king is almost as suspect as the claim about the wonderful serpents.

So the best you can usually hope for in the English 8th century is a monk somewhere recording events in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (or a Anglo-Saxon Chronicle -- there were a few of them made at different times and in different places). The Chronicle doesn't really go for detail. They sum up a year in a few declarative sentences, with no description, so you're never going to get a description of a celestial event, you're going to get a simplfied interpretation of it. This interpretation will be in terms that the monk or the eyewitnesses he got his information from understood. They didn't know anything about supernovas, but he knew about miraculous crosses in the sky, like that which appeared to the future Roman Emperor Constantine during his fighting against his rival Maxentius. So whatever it was that someone saw, it got interpreted as a crucifix.

The point isn't that something definitely appeared in the sky in 774. There's a chance that someone made up the red crucifx, or hallucinated it, or the chronicler lied or garbled a story he heard fifth-hand. But if it did happen, there's no reason to think that there will be better written evidence than a vague line in one copy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

Re:A few weeks ago in slashdot... (1)

leftover (210560) | about 2 years ago | (#40479167)

you have never seen the aurora borealis, have you.

Re:A few weeks ago in slashdot... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40479223)

you have never seen the aurora borealis, have you.

That ain't a supernova, is it?

Thanks for making my point.

Re:A few weeks ago in slashdot... (4, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#40479191)

When you're talking about events 1200 years ago you're not exactly looking for a telescope picture.

There's evidence of a supernova, or possibly something else, from that time period in Japan. So what was it? Well, apparently in the UK they observed some weird shit that could have been a supernova. So it might actually have been a supernova.

Imagine if this was the other way. There was some written european evidence of some weird red thing in the sky in 774. What would tell what that red thing was? a spike in carbon 14 in tree rings from that time period would make 'supernova' a good guess.

It's not really a sciences problem, it's a language problem. Outside of Japan I bet most people didn't really care, and the Japanese didn't have the desire to search through piles of old foreign language documents on the vague guess they might say something that could have caused a carbon 14 spike in 773, 774 or 775. Digitized images and electronic search make that problem easier, and now the question for verification becomes one of finding if there are similar descriptions in other languages for that time period.

Re:A few weeks ago in slashdot... (1)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | about 2 years ago | (#40479415)

Big ass snakes migrating from Africa?

Re:A few weeks ago in slashdot... (1)

beachcoder (2281630) | about 2 years ago | (#40479665)

There seems to be some consensus that it's an aurora ('wonderful' suggesting visually pleasing) and has also been described as fire from Heaven.

Re:A few weeks ago in slashdot... (1)

jd (1658) | about 2 years ago | (#40482579)

I'd consider it credible of -some- event (where said event could range from the consumption of mushrooms to an actual celestial event). Any supporting material (eg: petroglyphs by pre-writing peoples) would be extremely helpful, but ancient sites are not always well-recorded and are frequently poorly-preserved, making that kind of data hard to find.

A supernova? Maybe, but I still see nothing in the evidence to suggest that it was specifically that. I would imagine a GRB within a narrow range of distances could produce a similar result in Japan and England, although I'm open to any actual physicists telling me why that wouldn't work. Instead of a supernova, would a sufficiently close regular nova (much more common and much less visible to the naked eye) have a similar effect?

What about the tree-riing data? How many countries does it cover? How does the C14 data vary between geographic regions? (ie: is there a specific hotspot or track that can be inferred from available data?)

If you know how the C14 varies, you know what would have been visible in England and can rationally test the theory that this is an observation of a supernova.

Re:A few weeks ago in slashdot... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478611)

774 was a very good year. Mozart wrote his Great Mass. The Montgolfier brothers went up in the first hot-air balloon. And England recognized the independence of the United States. No, wait......

Fiery crucifix in the skies of Kent (2)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 2 years ago | (#40481025)

This year also appeared in the heavens a red crucifix, after sunset;

I'm a little dubious that a supernova, even one visible only in the west after sunset, would be described as a red crucifix. In astronomical photos stars look like crosses, but that's an artifact of the telescope optics, which they didn't have in the dark ages. A supernova just wouldn't look like a cross.

On the other hand, I doubt it's aurora. Since England is pretty far north, and they didn't have artificial lights at night, they would see aurora far more often than we do now, and it just wouldn't rate such a mention. (Besides, an auroral manifestation in the shape of a cross? Dubious.)

A sun pillar [wikipedia.org] plus a layer of clouds would make a crucifix, though. I'll go with that as my most-likely explanation.

Funding needed! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478367)

Now this undergrad needs to get funding to track the source article down in it's original form and have it authenticated and cross verified with other ancient works. He will also need several other undergrads to cross check his work, several hours of super computer time or better their own workstations, also the usual funding for a trip (I mean "conference") of three weeks in the Bahamas to discuss all this with his peers after he writes the paper up and has it submitted to the proper journals to have the proper peer review that noone can afford to read in the correct publications. I figure 2 to 3 million dollars should do it. After all this could be the tiny spark of evidence as why reading tree rings and it's tree ring data should not or should be included in figuring out how Global Warming going back then and now, and how the whole normalizing of the tree ring data should be rethought! Micheal Mann should be all over this!

Re:Funding needed! (0)

pclminion (145572) | about 2 years ago | (#40478573)

Replying to undo moderation. I wanted Funny, not Flamebait.

Re:Funding needed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40479173)

These particular tree rings samples can be included in Mann's work only IF they SUPPORT his conclusions.

Re:Funding needed! (1)

din0 (2608929) | about 2 years ago | (#40479273)

This is why I work in Information Technology with a History degree. When a primary source in 774 is a reference to a colored spot in the sky, you might as well include that they rode on unicorns that vomited rainbows.

Re:Funding needed! (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | about 2 years ago | (#40479379)

Micheal Mann should be all over this!

No kidding! [wikipedia.org] Nothing says "non-stop action entertainment" quite like 8th-century tree rings, dude...

Re:Funding needed! (1)

UnanimousCoward (9841) | about 2 years ago | (#40480099)

So I'll start an indiegogo page to get the funding [indiegogo.com] ...as long as someone else starts a fund [indiegogo.com] for me because I did good by starting the fund :-)

Scientific mystery solved by Google (4, Funny)

boristdog (133725) | about 2 years ago | (#40478369)

Man, sciencing is so much easier these days.

Re:Scientific mystery solved by Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40479323)

Its so much more fun with a glow ball search engine. And they said neducation was impotent!

No foresight! (0)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#40478391)

> carbon-14 spike in Japan in the year 775 suddenly appeared two weeks ago

Lemme guess: Earthquake --> tsunami --> meltdown --> time portal dumping radiation "somewhere"

Jackasses! >:-(

Re:No foresight! (2, Funny)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#40478619)

Hmmm given all the evidence, I'd say it's actually a 49% chance red crucifix = UFO explosion over Japan (since apparently the radiation-stuffed trees were localized to just Japan I guess, although not many trees elsewhere live to be 1300 years old) and 49% chance there's an obvious link between reactor meltdown and the year 775 via a magic quantum portal time teleportation particle traveling effect thing that blasted carbon-14 into the past and 2% chance that we're all living in a computer simulation and some programmer left incorrect calculations in for trees in the year 775 on accident or for lolz or as an easter egg :-P

Re:No foresight! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478857)

wow, is that actually funny to you?
classic unfunny nerd humor

1. predictable list format with the twist at the end
2. a mild insult to garner attention

must be easy to make your dumb friends laugh

No, he did not (5, Insightful)

mapkinase (958129) | about 2 years ago | (#40478395)

He proposed an explanation more plausible than people before.

Re:No, he did not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478751)

That's science, that is.

That's how it works.

Re:No, he did not (1, Offtopic)

The Moof (859402) | about 2 years ago | (#40478997)

No, he did not

Always remember Betteridge's Law of Headlines [wikipedia.org] whenever you see a question mark at the end of a headline like this. Question headlines have always been a trademark of poor article writing.

Re:No, he did not (1)

mapkinase (958129) | about 2 years ago | (#40479421)

>Question headlines have always been a trademark of poor article writing.

broad generalization

Re:No, he did not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40480843)

>broad generalization

poor article

Re:No, he did not (1)

SilentStaid (1474575) | about 2 years ago | (#40480949)

Does Ending a Headline in a Question Mark Signify Poor Writing?

Your mind has been blown.

Re:No, he did not (1)

jd (1658) | about 2 years ago | (#40482205)

Ending a headline in a question mark merely means they're writing in a language that is younger than Latin and has borrowed the shorthand notation developed by barbarians unwilling to write the questions out in full.

isnt it sorta cool (2)

aheadinabox (936810) | about 2 years ago | (#40478403)

That these days our understanding of the past can be improved just by increased aggregation of existing data.

Just f'n Google it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478409)

Srsly... Just Google it.

Could not have been... (1, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#40478413)

This could not have been caused by a supernova. A supernova would have affected almost the entire planet, not just Japan.

Re:Could not have been... (0)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#40478493)

Can't tell if stupid, or ignorant.

Re:Could not have been... (3, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#40479361)

Can't tell if stupid, or ignorant.

Well, for it to have affected the entire planet, the supernova would have had to be on the celestial equator. If it was displaced significantly from the celestial equator, then the radiant energy from the supernova simply wouldn't hit the Earth's surface at certain latitudes - for the same reasons that the polar regions experience periods of perpetual darkness.

Re:Could not have been... (0)

Khyber (864651) | about 2 years ago | (#40479499)

"Can't tell if stupid, or ignorant."

Can't tell if poorly educated, or just ignorant of where Japan is in relation to England and how day and night works.

Oh, wait, one and the same thing.

Re:Could not have been... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478497)

This could not have been caused by a supernova. A supernova would have affected almost the entire planet, not just Japan.

Don't you mean: "This could not have been caused by a supernova. A supernova would have affected almost the entire planet, not just two tree ring samples from Japan"?

Re:Could not have been... (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#40478537)

Maybe it has something to do with Japan being an island and having certain tree types. It was atmospheric carbon-14 which means it got down into the trees and maybe that only happens in certain weather and airflow patterns or something. Still, you would think it'd hit more of the Earth anyway like Hawaii or something but the article doesn't seem to indicate that.

Re:Could not have been... (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#40478577)

Oh, I just realized not a lot of trees live to be 1300 years old. So...there's that, lol. Someone take a geiger counter to the redwood forests :-P

Re:Could not have been... (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#40478641)

Right. Sure, the supernova would affect the entire planet. Problem is, there's not a lot of things left that record the event. The student's hypothesis is still quite valid.

Re:Could not have been... (1)

phayes (202222) | about 2 years ago | (#40478709)

Nobody said that the wood that had the carbon 14 spikes was in trees still alive today nor that only Japanese trees show the spike, just that wood that has been reliably dated to 775 in japan has the spike.

Re:Could not have been... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#40478971)

Oh, I just realized not a lot of trees live to be 1300 years old. So...there's that, lol. Someone take a geiger counter to the redwood forests :-P

No, we will have to chop them all down to correctly analyze the rings. Of course, in order not to waste the wood we will sell it to the highest bidder. And we will have to cut down a large number of trees so as to get a good statistical sample.

              --- Yours in Science and Industry (or Industry and 'Science')
                                Dick Cheney

Re:Could not have been... (1)

Snotnose (212196) | about 2 years ago | (#40478627)

Think of the dust cloud as a kid with a magnifying glass, and Japan as the ants.

Re:Could not have been... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40479537)

Most of the plots in this Finnish research paper about tree rings start around year 775:

http://lustiag.pp.fi/gt_trace2008_cyclic.pdf

that probably is a coincidence. I'll ask from the authors to be sure if i'll find their addresses.

Re:Could not have been... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40479919)

I found the addresses and sent that mail ..

Slashdot comment on June 4 predates podcast (5, Interesting)

vossman77 (300689) | about 2 years ago | (#40478429)

Interesting to me, is that in the linked article there is a slashdot comment with the "red crucifix" text discussed in this article.

http://news.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2893343&cid=40208359 [slashdot.org]

The podcast that the student listened to was produced on June 7 and the slashdot comment was June 4. Hmm... to think user JustOK could have been in Nature.

Re:Slashdot comment on June 4 predates podcast (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about 2 years ago | (#40479127)

Does that mean I've been tricked into reading TFA?

Re:Slashdot comment on June 4 predates podcast (2)

kyrio (1091003) | about 2 years ago | (#40479169)

The way it sounds to me: kid sees post on Slashdot. Kid "reports his findings" to some prof. Kid gets published for doing even less than a Google search, he just stole* the information from a /. post. *Stolen because he lied about how he got the information.

Re:Slashdot comment on June 4 predates podcast (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 years ago | (#40482149)

he just stole* the information from a /. post.

Was the Slashdot poster an expert on the religious writings of Saxony in 774, or did he Google it (too?)?

Re:Slashdot comment on June 4 predates podcast (2)

BobNET (119675) | about 2 years ago | (#40482717)

JustOK's sig is "rewriting history since 2109", so it's possible they just copied the Nature article from three weeks in the future.

from older Nature article about the spike (2)

mapkinase (958129) | about 2 years ago | (#40478453)

"The increase in 14C levels is so clear that the scientists, led by Fusa Miyake, a cosmic-ray physicist from Nagoya University in Japan, conclude that the atmospheric level of 14C must have jumped by 1.2% over the course of no longer than a year, about 20 times more than the normal rate of variation"

Does this mean that new supernova contributed 1.2% of radiation of all stars, including Sun? Does Sun contribute to Carbon 14 contents in tree rings?

Were similar tree ring changes has been detected during known supernova events in history?

In the year 0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478495)

Time to look for a mysterious spike in carbon-14 levels corresponding to the year 0.

Re:In the year 0 (1)

terjeber (856226) | about 2 years ago | (#40479145)

There was no year zero. Due to various historical "stuff" the year just before "year 1 after Christ" is "year 1 before Christ". Blame the Romans. The Christ from the mythology was born in "the year 1 after Christ". Funny. Also why the first day of the new millennium was January 1st 2001, making all the people who partied in 1999-2000 wrong :-)

Re:In the year 0 (1)

jittles (1613415) | about 2 years ago | (#40479289)

Oh no. Prince told me to party like it was 1999. Prince is never wrong. How dare you say such a thing? Perhaps you just don't know how to party?

Sorry, I mean the Artist Formally Known as Prince. I don't want to confuse anyone...

Year 0 (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 2 years ago | (#40482067)

There was no year zero.

Depends on the calendar system in use whether or not this is true; there is a year 0 in many calendar systems.

Due to various historical "stuff" the year just before "year 1 after Christ" is "year 1 before Christ". The Christ from the mythology was born in "the year 1 after Christ".

Actually, in both the major calendar systems that refer to a year "Before Christ" (B.C.), the years in the other direction are "Anno Domini" (or, in English, "Year of Our Lord"), not "after Christ".

The practice parallels the practice of numbering years within (not after) the reign of a particular monarch.

But, each of those calendars also has a widely used modern calendar whose year 0 corresponds the year 1 B.C. on the corresponding calendar system. (ISO 8601 year 0 is proleptic Gregorian year 1 B.C., whereas astronomical year 0 is Julian year 1 B.C.)

Also, a number of calendar systems that are unrelated to the Julian and Gregorian systems have a year 0; e.g., the Buddhist and Hindu calendar systems have a year 0, because they are based on an elapsed year count from the epoch point rather than an ordinal year number during a defined era.

Re:In the year 0 (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 years ago | (#40482113)

The Christ from the mythology was born in "the year 1 after Christ". Funny.

Or, according to historians, more likely 7 years 'before Christ'.

Actually, I'm not sure if Yoshua of Nazereth was was 'the Christ' until about 26 'after Christ'. Some theologian will have to help out there.

Oh, the Causality!

physics question (3, Insightful)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#40478515)

I didn't get way into physics in high school but I was interested. Hearing this explanation confuses me so there are probably more people than me who are wondering this. How exactly can cosmics radiation can cause carbon atoms in the atmosphere to gain neutrons? No new carbon is being formed, obviously, so existing carbon atoms would have to be turning into carbon-14 and I didn't think it was possible to just slip in another neutrons without basically blowing up the nucleus of any atom. I mean we don't "make" tritium for example by stuffing in more nuetrons magically, we have to sort it out of seawater. I would bet I could randomly throw my mouse and hit 3 physicists here at slashdot so could someone explain what the correlation between supernovas and carbon 14 is?

Re:physics question (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478559)

The radiation turns one proton in a nitrogen atom into a neutron, changing the atom from nitrogen to carbon, with two extra neutrons.

Re:physics question (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478615)

If you'd bothered to wikipede: "Cosmic rays are energetic charged subatomic particles, originating in outer space.They may produce secondary particles that penetrate the Earth's atmosphere and surface. The term ray is historical as cosmic rays were thought to be electromagnetic radiation." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_rays
"Carbon-14 is produced in the upper layers of the troposphere and the stratosphere by thermal neutrons absorbed by nitrogen atoms. When cosmic rays enter the atmosphere, they undergo various transformations, including the production of neutrons."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon-14

Re:physics question (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40479053)

If your source of all things certain is wikipeding, you shouldn't bother posting replies.

Re:physics question (2, Informative)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | about 2 years ago | (#40478933)

It's only a few nuclei that fall completely apart when they encounter a neutron. In fact, the first time physicists observed that happening, it was so unexpected that they didn't realize at first that it was what they were seeing.

Most absorb the neutron, often having a secondary reaction that changes them to a different element.

Tritium is not sorted out of seawater. With a half-life of 12 years it isn't found in nature. You may be thinking of deuterium.

Re:physics question (1)

NikeHerc (694644) | about 2 years ago | (#40478977)

I mean we don't "make" tritium for example by stuffing in more nuetrons magically, we have to sort it out of seawater.

Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tritium [wikipedia.org] ) gives numerous ways to "make" tritium.

Re:physics question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478987)

"Stuffing in more neutrons" is exactly how we make tritium. There is no magic in this, unless you define magic to be sufficiently advanced technology.

Sahara movie had a like this in it (1)

BetaDays (2355424) | about 2 years ago | (#40478643)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0318649/ [imdb.com]

It's funny the movie had something like this in it. I don't want to do any spoiler of the movie

How old is Google? (1)

trevc (1471197) | about 2 years ago | (#40478711)

Google existed in 774??

Re:How old is Google? (1)

belthize (990217) | about 2 years ago | (#40478815)

No, but it will in 20 years. Brin's been working on a time machine.

Red Crucifix In the Sky Can Mean Only One Thing... (2)

Trails (629752) | about 2 years ago | (#40478793)

Dragons!!!

Re:Red Crucifix In the Sky Can Mean Only One Thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40479099)

That would explain the "wonderful serpents" ...

Dragons! [Re:Red Crucifix In the Sky Can Mean...] (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 2 years ago | (#40481241)

Dragons!!!

That would explain the "wonderful serpents" ...

If you just read down a few years:

"A.D. 793. This year came dreadful fore-warnings over the land of the Northumbrians, terrifying the people most woefully: these were immense sheets of light rushing through the air, and whirlwinds, and fiery, dragons flying across the firmament. These tremendous tokens were soon followed by a great famine: and not long after, on the sixth day before the ides of January in the same year, the harrowing inroads of heathen men made lamentable havoc in the church of God in Holy-island, by rapine and slaughter."

(from The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle : Eighth Century [yale.edu] )

Betteridge's Law of Headlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40478949)

No.

Unidentified Flying Crucifix (2)

INeededALogin (771371) | about 2 years ago | (#40479239)

I guess we can mark that UFC off the list. Next please.

Credit slashdotters, not some random undergrad (0)

Kergan (780543) | about 2 years ago | (#40481157)

http://news.slashdot.org/story/12/06/04/1147201/what-struck-earth-in-775 [slashdot.org]

http://omacl.org/Anglo/part2.html [omacl.org]

And I'm sure other scientists had considered that same hypothesis before anyone here. Scientists, shame on you: your field is every more fucked up.

Include the reference! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40481307)

He found a reference in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to a 'red crucifix' appearing in the sky in 774

Idiots! For the love of..., tell us the reference!

The art of finding what you are looking for (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 2 years ago | (#40481973)

There is danger in conducting a search for what you expect to see because you WILL find what your looking for if you look hard enough.

What separates real scientists from crackpots is what you do next after you get a hit.

An easier way to solve the mystery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40482509)

We could always travel 1250 Light-years out, and observe the event again...

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