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Earth May Have Been Hit By a Gamma-Ray Burst In 775 AD

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the charlemagne-smash! dept.

Earth 157

The Bad Astronomer writes "Studies of carbon-14 in Japanese trees and beryllium-10 in Antarctic ice indicate the Earth was hit by a big radiation blast in 775 AD. Although very rare, occurring only once every million years or so, the most likely culprit is a gamma-ray burst, a cosmic explosion accompanying the birth of a black hole. While a big solar flare is still in the running, a GRB from merging neutron stars produces the ratio of carbon and beryllium observed, and also can explain why no bright explosion was seen at the time, and no supernova remnant is seen now."

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Umm? How far away would it have been? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42650697)

I thought a nearby GRB would wipe out all life, all the way down to viruses.

At least that's what Michia Kaku and his bullshit "science" documentaries on Discovery Channel have been telling me.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (4, Informative)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year and a half ago | (#42650725)

Depends on intensity I imagine. The article notes it had to be further then 3000 light years away or they'd have expected it to cause an extinction event - and also that there are "short" and "long" GRBs.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (2)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42652035)

also, couldnt a grb at worst wipe out life on just half the planet? Surely if you're on the "dark side of the earth" for this event, you would be safe.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (4, Informative)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42652199)

also, couldnt a grb at worst wipe out life on just half the planet? Surely if you're on the "dark side of the earth" for this event, you would be safe.

Sure, if you can build the 40,000 km long, 30 km high wall around the terminator fast enough to prevent your part of atmosphere from getting spoiled with all the NO2 generated by the gamma burst interacting with the atmosphere.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (1)

noh8rz9 (2716595) | about a year and a half ago | (#42652695)

explain.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (3, Informative)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about a year and a half ago | (#42653273)

From here [msn.com] :

These bursts of radiation reach the Earth's atmosphere and cause free oxygen and nitrogen atoms to bang together, and some recombine into ozone-destroying compounds called nitrous oxides. Nitrous oxides in the atmosphere are long-lived; they keep destroying ozone until they fall out of the sky in rain drops.

Google: Get to know it. Make it your friend.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (1)

noh8rz9 (2716595) | about a year and a half ago | (#42653399)

Ahh, now I see. According to msn, the magazine of record, an unknown amount of radiation will make Ann unknown amount of nitrous, which is n2o btw. Depending o nthe quantity and concentration, this may cause ozone holes and global warming (it is a GHG) to an unknown degree. But the thought that it would literally suck all the oxygen out of the room is a silly thought. May I suggest not using google so much, as you encourage me to, but use your head sometimes? Also, the question still stands, about whT if you're on the dark side of the earth.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (2)

tragedy (27079) | about a year and a half ago | (#42653153)

The concentrations would have to be startlingly high to actually wipe out all surface life. Even then, the life that doesn't breathe, or lives in the ocean, or just isn't as badly affected as large mammals would be just fine.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (-1, Flamebait)

Alex Belits (437) | about a year and a half ago | (#42650747)

1. It depends on the intensity. Obviously being far enough from any source of radiation, you get lower amount of it.
2. You are an idiot.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42650867)

Alex, calling people idiots doesn't really help your credibility. Try not being a name calling jackass. 3 digit ID doesn't give you the right to be a prick.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (-1, Offtopic)

tibit (1762298) | about a year and a half ago | (#42650929)

It's OK to be a prick to name calling AC pricks. Sometimes they need to be taught a lesson.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42650989)

"We cannot treat name-calling as reasoned debate."

That was a line in a speech delivered earlier today. I doubt he was referring to Slashdot specifically, but it's well taken here anyway.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42651901)

Was it the the jug-eared nignog?

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42650993)

Are you a little posterior-pained that the AC called Kaku's documentaries bullshit?

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (1)

tragedy (27079) | about a year and a half ago | (#42653165)

I don't even know who this Kaku guy is and I still tend to agree with the assessment that the original post wasn't very well considered.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (-1, Flamebait)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#42650965)

What should we call idiots? Go away you fucking care bear.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42651095)

real mature. did you come here straight from 4chan or did you swing by 9gag first?

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (-1, Offtopic)

Alex Belits (437) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651369)

At 4chan they are called fucktards, just like everyone else.

Re: Umm? How far away would it have been? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42652195)

and on /. they're called... Alex? I think the point is that by name calling you started a minor flame war that is better suited to sites like 4chan. Perhaps it would be best to take the advice and go forward with a little more respect to other posters.

Re: Umm? How far away would it have been? (-1, Troll)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year and a half ago | (#42652919)

Fuck you carebear AC. Calling an idiot an idiot is the first step to that idiot learning something.

The GGGGGP is still an idiot. /. is not a middle school science tutoring site.

Alex shouldn't have bothered though. Let the idiot stew in his ignorance.

AC I bet you've got shelf full of participation trophies.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (1, Insightful)

osu-neko (2604) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651021)

Alex, calling people idiots doesn't really help your credibility. Try not being a name calling jackass. 3 digit ID doesn't give you the right to be a prick.

Normally I would agree, but when the person you're responding to was being a douche to begin with, the response is warranted.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (0)

camperdave (969942) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651497)

... when the person you're responding to was being a douche to begin with, the response is warranted.

I disagree. If the person was repeatedly directing the douchebaggery to you, then you might have a reason. However, when there is a single comment about a television show (not the person, the show), and that comment is only a non-genteel expression of the poster's opinion about the show, then the name-calling is unwarranted.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (2, Insightful)

Alex Belits (437) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651825)

Just the opposite.
Douchebaggery directed against objective truth deserves more harsh response than personal attacks.

Three digit ID? (1)

Sussurros (2457406) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651843)

Three digit ID? I thought it meant IQ. So I don't really have a seven digit IQ? ... *sigh*

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42652957)

3 digit ID doesn't give you the right to be a prick.

umm, I'm pretty sure it does. It's in the terms of service somewhere, but nobody ever reads it.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42650811)

A nearby...but a less nearby would still be detectable.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (5, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | about a year and a half ago | (#42650841)

I thought a nearby GRB would wipe out all life, all the way down to viruses.

It would. But if it was farther away, it would just create a bunch of radioactive isotopes in the upper atmosphere while leaving life on the ground mostly unmolested.

If only someone had an estimate of how far away this one was, and had presented it in something that would describe this news item in detail. We could call it an "article".

For non-douches who also didn't RTFA, it's estimated at 3000 to 13000 ly away. For comparison, in Phil's book "Death from the Skies" he discusses what would happen as a result of a GRB from 100 ly away, and the result is Very Bad(tm).

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (4, Informative)

Kjella (173770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651291)

For comparison, in Phil's book "Death from the Skies" he discusses what would happen as a result of a GRB from 100 ly away, and the result is Very Bad(tm).

Of course for all the preppers out there it should also be said that the closest confirmed GRB is 1.3 billion light-years from Earth, the observation period isn't very long but it's hardly a common occurrence. Which is also why I'm a little sceptic that we've had one right on our doorstep only a few thousand light years away.

Re: Umm? How far away would it have been? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42651505)

They have to happen sometime and somewhere. Why not a little over 1,000 years ago and kinda-sorta near us? It's as good a place as any.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42651781)

Wouldn't it be possible to calculate where that black hole formed in the night sky at the time, and where it is located at the present? When done go looking for it at the guesstimated position and see if there actually is a black hole that corresponds to the one hypothesized!?

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (2)

smpoole7 (1467717) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651915)

> Wouldn't it be possible to calculate where that black hole formed in the night sky at the time, and where it is located at the present?

I'm guessing insufficient data. The distance and bearing would need to be established with some precision.

As for finding a stellar-sized black hole 1,000 light years away, unless its effects can be noted, even its peripheral effects would be difficult to observe.

This is why we'll have to be careful once the scientists get off their lazy butts and give us hyperdrive. There you are, zipping along, and all of sudden, "chomp," you get eaten by an uncharted black hole. :)

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (1)

mysidia (191772) | about a year and a half ago | (#42653243)

This is why we'll have to be careful once the scientists get off their lazy butts and give us hyperdrive. There you are, zipping along, and all of sudden, "chomp," you get eaten by an uncharted black hole. :)

There isn't such a high density of black holes that the risk would be that high.

Assuming your hyperdrive equipped vehicle still has to obey the laws of physics... the gravitational forces exerted by any celestial object, including dark matter, could be a risk.

Specifically... the risk of crashing into solid matter that doesn't emit or reflect light.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42652533)

No.
    The GRB lasts about 2 seconds. They get the time from from tree rings and ice cores so the are getting a
event date to the nearest year. and even if you knew a specific night - you don't know the angle it hit the earth
from so at best your search space is a half/sphere, and in reality it's the whole damn sky.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (1)

melikamp (631205) | about a year and a half ago | (#42652157)

I think even a nearby long GRB would only fry half the planet, being 30 seconds long.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (2, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | about a year and a half ago | (#42652373)

Well, IIRC from the book, basically everything on the facing side of the earth would be dead and on fire. It would also entirely destroy the ozone layer in that hemisphere. Once the atmosphere had equalized, what would be left wouldn't be enough to protect the survivors from the sun, so they'd all die too, just more slowly and painfully.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (1)

tragedy (27079) | about a year and a half ago | (#42653215)

Half the world on fire is still only half the world on fire. This planet is broken up into land masses separated by ocean. There would be a lot of soot and byproducts causing terrible air quality, and probably some "nuclear winter" style weather for a while. Lots and lots of things would die, but certainly not everything. As for the loss of the ozone layer, the soot would probably make up for that. The ozone layer would recover and animals would modify their behaviour to avoid excessive sun damage in the meantime.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42653427)

It would effect plants as well as animals. Why would you think soot could replace ozone as a UV blocker? The nitrous oxides produced would prevent the recovery of the ozone layer for decades or centuries.

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (2)

ignavus (213578) | about a year and a half ago | (#42652387)

If only someone had an estimate of how far away this one was, and had presented it in something that would describe this news item in detail. We could call it an "article".

I would still call it an article if it just contained the word "the".

Re:Umm? How far away would it have been? (4, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | about a year and a half ago | (#42652473)

I would still call it an article if it just contained the word "the".

Definitely.

93 million miles (2)

peter303 (12292) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651025)

I've heard the 775 C14 anomaly attributed to a very large solar storm period too, even those these guys dismiss the idea.

Re:93 million miles (3, Informative)

smpoole7 (1467717) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651847)

> I've heard the 775 C14 anomaly attributed to a very large solar storm period too, even those these guys dismiss the idea.

The article claims that it would have to be 10 times more intense than any solar storm ever recorded. The article admits that it's a possibility, but (for various reasons) unlikely.

The tubeworms would never even notice (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | about a year and a half ago | (#42652147)

It would be pretty grim for anything near the surface.

For Posterity (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42650709)

The Incredible Hulk was hit by a gamma-ray burst in 1962 AD.

and William of Bixby (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42650721)

became ye olde incredible hulke...

David of Banner (1)

Latent Heat (558884) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651235)

Gee, don't confuse the actor and the character.

Bruce of Banner (1)

Latent Heat (558884) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651249)

Is this better?

Re:David of Banner (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42651371)

Someone needed to play him on the stage, and Lou of Ferrigno was in another country.

The earth seems quiet... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42650735)

But you not like earth when EARTH ANGRY! RAAWWWRR

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42650755)

So I guess that means that, assuming they are correct, that this particular doomsday scenario is now a non-factor for the (un)foreseeable future.

Nice to be crossing one off the list for a change. :)

Re:Hmm (3, Insightful)

cultiv8 (1660093) | about a year and a half ago | (#42650813)

But I'm a Frequentist Statistician, you insensitive clod!

Re:Hmm (2)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year and a half ago | (#42652349)

no, there is still Eta Carinae 7800 light years away, and if it is part of binary system there is non-zero chance the pole might be oriented at earth when it blows. That would produce ten times lethal dose for anything on that side of Earth when it goes. It is near the end of its life and could hypernova at any time.....

How many times did this happen? (4, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42650801)

Did we get struck twice in 775? I bet samzenpus knows.

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

Re:How many times did this happen? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year and a half ago | (#42650889)

Well, at least the dupes are a half year apart now...

Re:How many times did this happen? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42651105)

This is not a dupe, the first article pointed to tree rings, the second confirms the results using Antarctic ice.

Re: How many times did this happen? (1)

Phase Shifter (70817) | about a year and a half ago | (#42653333)

That reminds me, are we getting close to time for the semiannual "scientists prove bumblebees really can fly, if they flap their wings" dupe yet?

Re:How many times did this happen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42651223)

Funny thing someone asked [slashdot.org] for more articles like that one.

Re:How many times did this happen? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651327)

Hmmm. This event: Black hole formation or giant solar flare.

Other article: C14 creation: Supernova or giant solar flare.

I hereby declare the 775 event a giant solar flare.

Re:How many times did this happen? (2)

smpoole7 (1467717) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651953)

> I hereby declare the 775 event a giant solar flare.

I can't remember if the article specifically mentions this (yes, I did read it), but you'd think that someone would have recorded the event. We have some half-decent written records from that period, from the Chinese, if nothing else. If it was a solar event, you'd think we'd have the Mother Of All Auroras in the sky that evening. Surely someone would have noted it?

After all, the Crab Nebula was finally declared as the probable result of a supernova explosion in 1054AD, primarily from Chinese, Japanese and Arab records. Those folks were carefully watching the sky back into antiquity.

Re:How many times did this happen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42651379)

Did we get struck twice in 775?

Clearly the sysadmin screwed up by not setting the umask to disable write/execute for "universe".

Newton? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42650825)

http://mobile.wnd.com/2008/09/75434/ could it be?

That explains... (2)

Scutter (18425) | about a year and a half ago | (#42650881)

...why everything tastes like blue.

Re:That explains... (1)

redneckmother (1664119) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651391)

...why everything tastes like blue.

Errmmm... no, that's because of the little sugar cubes...

Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42650887)

I understand some of these words.

Now we know (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42650897)

They were really the Glow-In-The-Dark Ages.

His tree data is wrong (4, Informative)

JerryLove (1158461) | about a year and a half ago | (#42650911)

FTA: "In the last 3000 years, the maximum age of trees alive today, only one such event appears to have taken place."

The actual oldest trees are about 5,000 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oldest_trees)

Though that doesn't devalidate his main point (that this has only happened once in 3,000 years). I just wish he'd fact-check a bit more.

Re:His tree data is wrong (4, Interesting)

Alef (605149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651051)

This one [adm.umu.se] is supposed to be older still, at an impressive age of 9550 years.

Re:His tree data is wrong (1)

gary_7vn (1193821) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651141)

I just wish Jerry would fact check more! Sorry, Jerry, I could not resist.

Re:His tree data is wrong (3, Funny)

corbettw (214229) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651217)

A tree older than the world? That must be the one Eve picked the fruit from!

Re:His tree data is wrong (1)

darkdoc (100102) | about a year and a half ago | (#42653249)

No, this predates Adam and Eve by a few days... and God said "let there be light".

Re:His tree data is wrong (1)

tylutin (2575251) | about a year and a half ago | (#42652193)

Pando ( the tree) [wikipedia.org] is estimated at 80,000 years old, it's root system that is.
Located at the western edge of the Colorado Plateau in South-central Utah.

Re:His tree data is wrong (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42651071)

If you checked that list, [wikipedia.org] there are only a few tested to be more than ~3000 years old, a few more claimed at high ages, and clonal tree colonies which would not provide the data he wants. So, yes, the article is wrong, but when the relevent scope is applied, the timeframe is within the expected error.

Re:His tree data is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42651297)

Citing Wikipedia for authority? Seriously?

The oldest known tree was about 4,900 years old (a bristlecone pine known as "Prometheus"), until it was cut down by a U.S. Forest Service graduate student in 1964.

http://www.nps.gov/grba/historyculture/the-prometheus-story.htm

Where's Giorgio A. Tsoukalos when we need him? (1)

gapagos (1264716) | about a year and a half ago | (#42650933)

Clearly, it must have been aliens! [knowyourmeme.com]

Effects on Humans and animals (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651081)

Neither of the articles discuss what might have happened to living things at the time. Could some people have had radiation sickness for example? Could this have caused mutations?

Re:Effects on Humans and animals (5, Funny)

Megahard (1053072) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651185)

It killed off all the creatures that only lived back then - dragons, elves, fairies, witches and the like.

Re:Effects on Humans and animals (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651385)

Yes, gamma radiation and magic are incompatible; that's why The Hulk was able to beat Loki so easily.

Re:Effects on Humans and animals (1)

Kerstyun (832278) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651973)

Yeah you kid's think your clever. How about the dinersaur's?

Re:Effects on Humans and animals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42651271)

No Charles. NO. NOO
Get out of my head

Re:Effects on Humans and animals (4, Informative)

reverseengineer (580922) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651525)

According to this article [nature.com] from last year on the same event, the event caused an increase in the concentration of carbon-14 in the atmosphere of about 1.2%. That's apparently about 20 times the normal rate of variation, but the baseline level of carbon-14 is about a part per trillion, so we'd be talking about increasing the concentration of carbon-14 by about 10 parts per quadrillion. In contrast, the period of above-ground nuclear testing almost doubled the concentration at its peak in the early 1960s.

Given our indirect knowledge of the event in 775, it's unknown whether other radiological hazards would have been present in addition to the C14 spike, but there don't seem to be indications of mass dieoffs or famines.

Re:Effects on Humans and animals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42652971)

It's implied that all intelligent life died out.

I personally don't trust any banana (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651161)

that's older than one day.

Good thing there weren't any cars back then (1)

JulianDraak (1918564) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651211)

Or else they would have come alive & trapped Emilio Estevez in a gas station.

Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42651237)

Finally I have a starting point in my quest to find Bruce Banner!

The wikipedia page has a curious entry (1)

Shivetya (243324) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651357)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/774%E2%80%93775_radiation_burst [wikipedia.org]

The part about witness accounts to a red cross like image in the sky, meaning someone may have actually seen the event...

Re:The wikipedia page has a curious entry (4, Interesting)

Kittenman (971447) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651481)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/774%E2%80%93775_radiation_burst [wikipedia.org]

The part about witness accounts to a red cross like image in the sky, meaning someone may have actually seen the event...

I'd take that with a pinch of salt. I've been reading Tom Holland's "Millennium" and it mentions that one of the Holy Roman emperors (an Otto) was heading down to Jerusalem to hand his crown over to JC when he came down for the second coming, when the army he was with saw a dragon in the sky. They figured this was a portent of bad things, and weren't surprised when Otto died a few days later.

I wouldn't take that anecdote as evidence for dragons though.

Re:The wikipedia page has a curious entry (2)

mcmonkey (96054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651533)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/774%E2%80%93775_radiation_burst [wikipedia.org]

The part about witness accounts to a red cross like image in the sky, meaning someone may have actually seen the event...

We'd have to treat that as hearsay as no one around in 774 would be updating wikipedia.

Better check MySpace.

Re:The wikipedia page has a curious entry (1)

mikael (484) | about a year and a half ago | (#42652119)

I saw a green cross like image in the sky around midnight in 1989 during the solar storm. Just like this one, but the sky was darker and there was a tinge of red:
http://travelblog.viator.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Norway-Northern-Lights2-540x405.jpg [viator.com]

It also had the effect of making signals from FM radio stations from Norway strong enough to be heard on radio systems in Scotland.

Re:The wikipedia page has a curious entry (1)

grege1 (1065244) | about a year and a half ago | (#42652477)

I think the red cross is mentioned in the "Anglo Saxon Chronicles". I have a copy but finding the reference might take a while.

Re:The wikipedia page has a curious entry (1)

grege1 (1065244) | about a year and a half ago | (#42652547)

I did a search and this one is all over the Internet. Interesting correlation if nothing else.

Re:The wikipedia page has a curious entry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42653155)

I did a search and "find a girl in your area" is all I got. What's your point?

Doubtful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42651365)

When anything that is said to occur only once in an enormous amount of time, such as a million years, is claimed to have happened in recorded history, I immediately start to doubt.

775AD is 1,238 years ago. If such a gamma-ray burst is certain to happen at any point in 1,000,000 years, the (mean average) chance it happened in the last 1,238 years is 1,238 / 1,000,000 = 0.001238 x 100 per cent. So just over 0.1%. So improbable, it's margins-of-error territory. A one in a thousand chance means it may have happened, but it's so unlikely, there's probably another explanation for the evidence.

Re:Doubtful (4, Interesting)

Trails (629752) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651507)

That's a bit of a backward way to approach it.

Normally, when we make observations that don't line up with our current understanding (e.g. "Where did all this carbon-14 come from?") we look for explanations. The most likely known sources of carbon-14 spike are GRB's and solar flares. Discounting those because the overall event is unlikely, in spite of the evidence, is what scientist dub "stupid".

Re:Doubtful (2)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651619)

I only crap once per day. The amount of time I sit on the toilet is only about 50 seconds. Considering that there are 86400 seconds in a day, the probability of me sitting on the toilet and crapping at any given moment is extremely small.

Yet here I am, sitting on the toilet and crapping while I type this on my phone. Or since it's so unlikely, is there another explanation for the smell and the splashing sound?

Re:Doubtful (1)

smpoole7 (1467717) | about a year and a half ago | (#42651987)

> Yet here I am, sitting on the toilet and crapping while I type this on my phone.

Your fingers must be a blur if you're going to finish your bid'ness AND get something posted to Slashdot within that 50 second time limit.

Just sayin' ...

Global Warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42651641)

It's Global warming!!! Tax the rich immediately!!

Here is your explosion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42653401)

http://www.nature.com/news/ancient-text-gives-clue-to-mysterious-radiation-spike-1.10898

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