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Astronomers Investigating Unknown Object That Hit the Earth In 773 AD

samzenpus posted about 9 months ago | from the what-could-it-be dept.

Space 84

KentuckyFC writes "In November 2012, a group of Japanese scientists discovered that the concentration of carbon-14 in Japanese cedar trees suddenly rose between 774 AD and 775 AD. Others have since found similar evidence and narrowed the date to 773 AD. Astronomers think this stuff must have come from space so now the quest is on to find the extraterrestrial culprit. Carbon-14 is continually generated in the atmosphere by cosmic rays hitting nitrogen atoms. But because carbon-14 is radioactive, it naturally decays back into nitrogen with a half-life of about 5700 years. This constant process of production and decay leaves the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere relatively constant at about one part in a trillion will be carbon-14. One possible reason for the increase is that the Sun belched a superflare our way, engulfing the planet in huge cloud of high energy protons. Recent calculations suggest this could happen once every 3000 years and so seems unlikely. Another possibility is a nearby supernova, which bathed the entire Solar System in additional cosmic rays. However, astronomers cannot see any likely candidates nearby and there are no historical observations of a supernova from that time. Yet another possibility is that a comet may have hit the Earth, dumping the extra carbon-14 in the atmosphere. But astronomers have ruled that out on the basis that a comet carrying enough carbon-14 must have been over 100 km in diameter and would surely have left other evidence such as an impact crater. So for the moment, astronomers are stumped."

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Some Background (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46133761)

Actual cause (5, Funny)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 9 months ago | (#46134843)

In 772, Charlemagne began a war of extermination [wikipedia.org] against the heathen Saxons, destroying the Irminsul [wikipedia.org] , the chief seat of their religion. Santa Claus (known as Odin [wikipedia.org] at that time, later Sinterklaus [wikipedia.org] , then Santa [wikipedia.org] ) observed this, and at the end of 772, delivered elf-coal [wikipedia.org] , high in carbon-14, to everyone in Charlemagne's forces. In the process, coal dust flew in unprecedented amounts from his sleigh, and this was naturally absorbed by the trees during 773.

I swear, if you people just knew your history a little better, you could maybe make this "science" stuff work better.

*golf clap* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46135989)

*golf clap*

Re:Actual cause (1)

jimshatt (1002452) | about 9 months ago | (#46139061)

I think we'll need to examine those Back Peters [wikipedia.org] a little closer. It's seems their half-life period is almost up.

Talking about proper historical context (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46139199)

http://voxullus.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/on-the-origins-of-black-pete-a-proper-historical-context/

Even if it's half-life period is up, there would be half left luckily.

Re:Actual cause (2)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 9 months ago | (#46139373)

There are wikipedia citations. This thesis must be watertight!

Why unlikely? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46133793)

"Recent calculations suggest this could happen once every 3000 years and so seems unlikely."

Why would it seem unlikely, that at some point 1300 years ago, an event calculated to happen every 3000 years actually happened?

Re:Why unlikely? (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 9 months ago | (#46133851)

That one got me, too.

I assume it means there would be historical evidence of other instances of this sort.

Re:Why unlikely? (1)

theguyfromsaturn (802938) | about 9 months ago | (#46134063)

If it is as frequent as every 1/3000 years, there definitely be some evidence of it. If there is none, it means that the odds are way less than .03% on any given year.

``

Re:Why unlikely? (4, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 9 months ago | (#46134347)

If it is as frequent as every 1/3000 years, there definitely be some evidence of it.

But there is evidence: The elevated C14 in the tree rings from 773AD. What other evidence would there be? A lack of historical records is not strong evidence again the solar flare theory, since Europe was in the dark ages and there were few literate people and few records survive from that period. China was thriving and prosperous under the Tang Dynasty, but it may have happened during the night in China, or even on a cloudy, overcast day, which is common in eastern China.

Re:Why unlikely? (4, Interesting)

Deadstick (535032) | about 9 months ago | (#46134409)

A lack of historical records is not strong evidence again the solar flare theory, since Europe was in the dark ages and there were few literate people and few records survive from that period. China was thriving and prosperous under the Tang Dynasty, but it may have happened during the night in China, or even on a cloudy, overcast day, which is common in eastern China.

Indeed. The Chinese, and possibly Arabs, Japanese and Anasazi Indians, noted the supernova of 1054 CE that made the Crab Nebula; Europe missed it altogether. Time of day was not an issue for that event, because it lasted a couple of years.

But anyway, it's only TFP that alludes to a lack of historical records: TFA cites two.

Re:Why unlikely? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46137423)

As frequent as every 1/3000 years

Every 3 hours, then? (1 year / 3000 = 3.3333e-4 years)

(Not sure I understand what beta wants me to put i (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46138455)

Every 3 hours, then? (1 year / 3000 = 3.3333e-4 years)

And as we all know, a year is roughly 10 kilo-hours long.

(Although I always prefer to think of it as 10*\Pi megaseconds, a figure which even has an interesting physical interpretation)

Re:Why unlikely? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46139513)

Guess what was in the article:
"Carbon-14 is continually generated in the atmosphere by cosmic rays hitting nitrogen atoms, causing them to absorb a neutron"
So we had a cosmic ray burst. Hmmm, thats not a comet...
Feel free to draw your own conclusions.

Re:Why unlikely? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46135229)

If it is as frequent as every 1/3000 years, there definitely be some evidence of it.

Like extra carbon14?

Re:Why unlikely? (1)

sandertje (1748324) | about 9 months ago | (#46134009)

Indeed, this does not seem very unlikely. In fact, shouldn't the chance be roughly 50% that something like that happened in the last 1500 years?

Re:Why unlikely? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46134461)

It's 39.35% chance in the last 1500 years. 0.50 would be the expected number of events.

Re:Why unlikely? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 9 months ago | (#46134689)

Posting to draw attention to parent.

What's the calculation there? Is it anything do with the Poisson distribution?

Re:Why unlikely? (3, Informative)

possiblywrong (3521931) | about 9 months ago | (#46134855)

Almost-- AC's figure of about 39% is assuming that these events occur as a Poisson *process*, so that the length of the interval between consecutive events has an *exponential* (continuous) distribution. In other words, 0.39 is the probability that this particular exponentially distributed random variable has a value less than 1500. (The Poisson *distribution*, on the other hand, is a *discrete* distribution-- in this case, non-negative integer-valued-- that in this case would describe the probability of a *number* of these events occurring within a given length of time.)

Re:Why unlikely? (2)

sandertje (1748324) | about 9 months ago | (#46134033)

The article on Medium says the following: There was a time when astronomers would have immediately ruled out this possibility as well. But last year, astrophysicists calculated that sun-like stars can produce superflares of this size about once every 3000 years. There are certainly hints in medieval texts that something interesting occurred in the atmosphere at that time. Which would hint at that the Sun is most likely indeed the culprit.

Certain hints in medival texts (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 9 months ago | (#46134569)

Medieval texts are both full of truth and full of utter bollocks. History and especially scientific history from around that era is scarce and subjective at best. Unless they can give actual examples that are clearly interpretable only one way, I don't think it should be taken seriously.

Re:Why unlikely? (4, Interesting)

Troed (102527) | about 9 months ago | (#46135231)

2000 years of global extreme climate events from historical records: http://www.breadandbutterscien... [breadandbu...cience.com]

773 A.D. In 773 A.D., a severe drought struck Shensi (now Shaanxi province) in central China at Sian.

In 773 A.D., there was a great drought in Shensi province in China.

774 A.D. In Scotland, there was a severe famine with a plague.

Winter of 774 / 775 A.D. In the year 675, there was the greatest frost in England.
[This entry was out of chronological order and I believe Short was referencing the year 775 A.D.]

775 A.D. In England, there was a drought with excessive heat, after a great frost.

The winter was so hard that the Euxine Sea (Black Sea) was quite frozen over. The ice was 30 foot or
cubits thick. People could walk 50 or 100 leagues (150 to 300 miles, 240 to 480 kilometers) on the ice
from the Danube River to the Euphrates River. On the ice fell 30 cubits deep of snow. When the ice
broke, it appeared like great mountains on the sea, which demolished and carried down whole villages
standing on the shore. This winter was succeeded by so excessive heat during the summer that all springs
dried up.72 [The Danube River probably refers to the Danube Delta in Europe, eastern Romania and south
western Ukraine. The Euphrates River rises in Turkey, passes through Syria, and joins with the Tigris
River in southeastern Iraq to form the Shatt al Arab, which empties into the Persian Gulf.]

In the year 775, “Snow fell, and lay 30 Cubits on a Level.”

[In Byzantium], the summer was hot and all the wells dried up.62 [Byzantium at this time included
Turkey, and the western part of the Balkan peninsula.]

In 775 A.D. during the period 1-30 August, floods struck Chekiang (now Zhejiang province) on the east
coast of China at Hangchow.

Re:Why unlikely? (5, Informative)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about 9 months ago | (#46134047)

The actual quote from the article:

The second way carbon-14 can be created in the Earthâ(TM)s atmosphere is if the Sun suddenly belched high energy particles our way. In other words, the Sun might have emitted a superflare 1000 times larger than usual which then engulfed the Earth.

There was a time when astronomers would have immediately ruled out this possibility as well. But last year, astrophysicists calculated that sun-like stars can produce superflares of this size about once every 3000 years.

The "seems unlikely" appears to be an invention of KentuckyFC, enabled by samzenpus.

Re:Why unlikely? (2)

Deadstick (535032) | about 9 months ago | (#46134369)

"Seems unlikely" is what TFP says. TFA says no such thing, and goes on to point out a couple of contemporary observations that would seem to explicitly support it.

Re:Why unlikely? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46137937)

"Recent calculations suggest this could happen once every 3000 years and so seems unlikely."

Why would it seem unlikely, that at some point 1300 years ago, an event calculated to happen every 3000 years actually happened?

Reading Comprehension fail on the part of the submitter/article writer.

What the article actually says is that in the past this theory would have been dismissed BUT because we now estimate it happens on average once every 3000 years that they can NOT rule it out. Or basically the exact opposite of what the summary says.

So then you might ask yourself "What kind of records might the ancients have left for such an event?" Contrary to what many posting here seem to think, this type of event does NOT produce anything you'd be able to notice from Earth. Lacking a large Electrical/Electronical infrastructure, the only secondary effects they would have been able to observe would be increase sighting of the Aurora.
And guess what- the article mentions that around this time period there WERE quite a few writings in various places, talking about seeing "signs" and "strange lights" in the sky or over churches.

So, in contradiction to the SlashPOT summary, this theory is currently the most plausible explanation although they aren't making any claims that it's actually the source of the carbon isotopes. Put down the Pipe, Samzenpus, you're too High to be Editing right now.

Supernova (2)

DavenH (1065780) | about 9 months ago | (#46133797)

There was indeed a "red crucifix" supernova found recently around 775 -- seems obviously the cause.

Re:Supernova (5, Informative)

The123king (2395060) | about 9 months ago | (#46133977)

Here's a link [scientificamerican.com]

Re:Supernova (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 9 months ago | (#46134487)

Red crucifix? Skewed carbon dating results?

Does this mean the Turin Shroud is real...?

Re:Supernova (2)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 9 months ago | (#46134947)

The Turin shroud is real alright. The problem is that it is NOT super natural!

Re:Supernova (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46136245)

My my, you *are* quite a fanatical little atheist, aren't you?

Re:Supernova (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46138005)

My my, you *are* quite a fanatical little atheist, aren't you?

I'd say the fanatics were the people who robbed a grave AND a corpse so they could perpetuate their shared delusion of Divinity.

Re:Supernova (2)

AbrasiveCat (999190) | about 9 months ago | (#46135385)

Red crucifix? Skewed carbon dating results?

Does this mean the Turin Shroud is real...?

Well there really is a Turin Shroud with an image, there is a question of how it was made.

Article says Not so Unlikely (5, Insightful)

glennrrr (592457) | about 9 months ago | (#46133863)

"There was a time when astronomers would have immediately ruled out this possibility as well. But last year, astrophysicists calculated that sun-like stars can produce superflares of this size about once every 3000 years."

I think that if an event happened 14 centuries ago, and one explanation is supposed to happen every 30 centuries or so then it isn't something that can be discarded as an explanation without further evidence.

Why not the superflare? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46133883)

Why do they rule out the superflare? Just because something happens once in 3000 years doesn't mean it couldn't have happened at a particular point in time. It only means that, given a large sample, on average the events are spaced around 3000 years apart. But in some instance it be 2000 or even 2 years apart, but other, longer periods still give an average of 3000. So in fact at any given point in time there is a non-zero probability that the event can happen and may as well have happened back in 774 AD.

Misleading title (5, Insightful)

daitengu (172781) | about 9 months ago | (#46133893)

While we're arguing about solar flares, or supernovas, we're kind of ignoring the obvious. The title states "an unknown object" "hit the earth". That, also, is ruled out right in the article.

Maybe a better title would have been "Some shit happened in 773 AD and no one really knows what it is, but here's what we have so far!"

Re:Misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46133955)

Also, something happened between 774 and 775 which is then narrowed to 773. That's unpossible!

Re: Misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46134207)

Your comment was 100% on point! Of all the back and forth commenting concerning this article, your contribution to it clarified it the most. My thoughts exactly!

Re:Misleading title (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 9 months ago | (#46134269)

Maybe a better title would have been "Some shit happened in 773 AD and no one really knows what it is, but here's what we have so far!"

Don't quit your day job to be a headline copy editor.

Re:Misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46137709)

Why shouldn't he?

At least that way we could try and get humanity to become more curious about the natural world, instead of relying purely on "shock, awe and drama" to be our prmiary sources of news and information.

Re:Misleading title (1)

mdielmann (514750) | about 9 months ago | (#46144127)

Maybe a better title would have been "Some shit happened in 773 AD and no one really knows what it is, but here's what we have so far!"

Don't quit your day job to be a headline copy editor.

Why not? Aim for the stars, hit the moon. I'm sure Slashdot hires new "editors" from time to time...

Remnant from Dinosaur farts. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46133981)

It could happen. ;-)

Carbon 14 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46133983)

Isn't Carbon 14 what is used in Carbon dating? I thought carbon-14 was supposed to be constant in the atmosphere? How we can trust the dating if at any given time there might be more or less being absorbed into the now dead things that we are measuring?

Re:Carbon 14 (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 9 months ago | (#46134331)

It's not constant, it's "locked in" at the time a plant dies, though. So you can use the ratios that exist in various artifacts to learn the age of those objects by correlating with samples from known periods.

You can also guess based on whatever is a "typical" level of C-14.

C-14 has a half-life of 5,000 years, so without being constantly replenished by some process, we wouldn't have any of it at all. We are fortunate that it does exist, though, because it is a decent near-term dating method with its short half-life. Other radioisotope dating methods using chains of decay products are able to give us date estimates without needing a table of initial amounts, but those processes also are typically suited to much longer time-scales.

Re:Carbon 14 (1)

efalk (935211) | about 9 months ago | (#46134383)

Yes, once the plant dies, the C14 is locked in and starts decaying. But A.C. was asking about the atmosphere -- isn't that supposed to be constant?

And that's what I'm wondering too. If supernovae and huge flares can cause glitches in the amount of C14 in the atmosphere, how does that affect carbon dating?

Mark my word, the creationists will be all over this in another couple days.

Re:Carbon 14 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46134575)

At the simplest level, you can assume that C14 is constant, but the question of is it constant or not has long ago been addressed. Using just tree rings for example, you can match up rings from past dead trees as they tend to be of similar size in years with good weather and smaller in years of bad weather, and records of wood going back thousands of years can be created. This gives a way of testing for C14 levels going back a long time, and yields corrections for dates on the order of 10% from the naive assumption that C14 levels don't change. In addition to tree rings, carbon trapped by other processes and in historical artifacts also shows close agreement, and carbon trapped in some mineral formations allow for a comparison between carbon dating and other radiocarbon dating. So there is a standard calibration graph produced by all of this to convert naive, constant C14 years into actual calibrated years (it also includes a 3% correction to the half life of C14 found in the 60s). ;

If you really want to get into the details of this, you can find information that deals with the chemical differences between C14 and C12, which is pretty slight. Depending on if a plant is C3, C$ or CAM photosynthesis based, it will absorb C14 at slightly different rates, and the absorption into the ocean is delayed from the atmosphere due to how slow it takes to mix the whole volume, and chemistry for incorporating C14 into things like shells is different than from that of photosynthesis slightly. But at that point, the differences are pretty small. You can look at the carbon isotopes in something modern, created less than a year ago like honey, and still struggle to tell if it is "real honey" made from typical C3 plants or had additional sugar from a C4 plant like corn unless it was above a 10% level.

Re:Carbon 14 (2)

RDW (41497) | about 9 months ago | (#46134583)

Yes, once the plant dies, the C14 is locked in and starts decaying. But A.C. was asking about the atmosphere -- isn't that supposed to be constant?

It's not quite constant, for various reasons listed here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R... [wikipedia.org]

The answer is to calibrate against something organic with a known age. Tree rings, which can give you a whole series of data points, are perfect for this.

Future archaeologists may be puzzled by the anomalous atmospheric levels of C14 in the mid 1960s, which were nearly double the normal levels (thanks to the radiation from above-ground nuclear weapon testing converting more N14 than usual). Contrary to the pop science picture, not all of the atoms in your body are replaced every 7 years and (e.g.) the DNA in certain long-lived brain cells of people born in this era still contains elevated levels of C14. In fact, it's thanks to the nuclear powers effectively doing an isotopic labelling experiment on the entire biosphere that we know the age of these cells in the first place.

Re:Carbon 14 (1)

Arker (91948) | about 9 months ago | (#46134973)

"Yes, once the plant dies, the C14 is locked in and starts decaying. But A.C. was asking about the atmosphere -- isn't that supposed to be constant?"

No. It's not.

That's why C14 dates come in two varieties - raw and calibrated.

There are calibration charts that correct the raw score to an actual historical year, based on the known levels of C14 for each year. These charts go back thousands of years, and have been assembled carefully using data from tree rings, varves, etc.

If your date is so early that calibration data does not exist for it, your raw score can only be roughly correlated with a year, and other methods of dating are recommended instead.

Re:Carbon 14 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46135921)

"Mark my word, the creationists will be all over this in another couple days."

But... but... if I add extra C-14 to an object (assuming that's what would happen, which isn't) then I'll bias the date towards being more *recent* than it was believed. Any creationist trying to latch onto this in any more than a laughably specious way would simply be saying "Aha! But that thing carbon-dated to 4000BC can't be that old! Since more C-14 is injected into the atmosphere at frequent intervals it, err, must be older. Um. Can I go and think this through for a few minutes, please?"

Re:Carbon 14 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46138367)

Shush! The high prophets of astronomy and archeology are communing with Science. Don't point out that they're not really scientists. They'll excommunicate you.

There is evidence of a SN at that time (3, Informative)

overlord (5277) | about 9 months ago | (#46134039)

Read this, already published here like a year ago (o more):
http://phys.org/news/2012-06-red-crucifix-sighting-supernova.html

Re:There is evidence of a SN at that time (1)

khallow (566160) | about 9 months ago | (#46134097)

Or of weird atmospheric phenomena, which also happens.

Re:There is evidence of a SN at that time (1)

AbrasiveCat (999190) | about 9 months ago | (#46135461)

Having biked a scale model of our solar system (the Sun 4 1/2' dia, Pluto 3.7 miles away) I can't wrap my head around the energies involved to make a noticeable change in C14 here on earth hundreds ( Cassiopeia A 11,0000?) of light year away. My small mind boggles.

Didn't you get the memo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46135535)

According to the IAU's vote, Pluto doesn't exist.

Re:There is evidence of a SN at that time (2)

fatphil (181876) | about 9 months ago | (#46139003)

Boggling permitted:
"""
Which of the following would be brighter, in terms of the amount of energy delivered to your retina:

      1. A supernova, seen from as far away as the Sun is from the Earth, or
      2. The detonation of a hydrogen bomb pressed against your eyeball?

Applying the physicist rule of thumb suggests that the supernova is brighter. And indeed, it is ... by nine orders of magnitude.
"""
http://what-if.xkcd.com/73/

Dinosaur farts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46134085)

Dinosaur farts? SUV's? Algore flying his CO2 plane around? I'll bet they tried to jack up everyone's taxes back then, too. Cap & trade.

You know, if they were so interested in reducing CO2 they'd just cap.

And I thought I procrastinated (1)

sandbagger (654585) | about 9 months ago | (#46134099)

Taking your time, aren't you boys?

Quite a mystery (2)

mevets (322601) | about 9 months ago | (#46134117)

Good thing you brought it here. Nothing solves a mystery faster than wild ass conjecture.

Must be superflare (1)

CopterHawk (981545) | about 9 months ago | (#46134147)

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

Re:Must be superflare (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46134267)

Unpossible! There have been no reports of whispering saviors and collection ships, whisking our children away to the roots of Yggdrasil from the burning world.

Superflare? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46134189)

If a Sun superflare happens once every 3000 years on average, how can you say it's too unlikely to explain something particularly weird that happened over 1200 years ago?

What kind of Math is that?

Re:Superflare? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46135991)

The kind that crops up in Slashdot summaries rather than the actual articles they talk about.

Never assume a summary sumamrises the article. That would be mistaking Slashdot editors for journalists, or even competent.

Typo, Sheldon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46134231)

"Carbon-14 is continually generated in the atmosphere by cosmic rays hitting nitrogen atoms. But because carbon-14 is radioactive, it naturally decays back into nitrogen with a half-life of about 5700 years. This constant process of production and decay leaves the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere relatively constant at about one part in a trillion will be carbon-14. "

should read

"Naturally occurring carbon-14 is about 1 part per trillion. In 773 AD there was suddenly a lot more."

So a Solar Flare led to the Dark Ages? (1)

retroworks (652802) | about 9 months ago | (#46134241)

Part of the reason there are so few clues to the cause is the paucity of recorded history in that period. Correlation doesn't mean causation, of course.

Re:So a Solar Flare led to the Dark Ages? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46134339)

Dark Ages were only in Europe. Europe is not the world. kthxby

Discussed here a year ago (1)

Megahard (1053072) | about 9 months ago | (#46134257)

http://science.slashdot.org/st... [slashdot.org]

Where I posted my theory that it killed off all the dragons, elves, fairies, witches etc.

Nuclear Dumping (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46134379)

So - you think a bit of Carbon-14 from 1300 years ago is news?
How about the "tree ring" detection for the next 5000 years based on one fouled nuclear plant gone bad ?
OK, not impressed ? How about the first six in a 30 year period with rampant commercialization ? Have humans ever made a horrible mess with chemicals, slaughter of other humans, horribly bad judgement on engineering ? oh of course, but the results are gone within a generation.. until you get to nukes, with half-lives like that described for Carbon-14.

I was in a talk with a nuclear weapons designer.. who rarely is seen due to immediate threats .. (and there were a few threats from the audience here too) He was a pompous, overweight red haired man who arrogantly proclaimed a lot of things.. including, that "The United States has never failed in achieving an engineering objective" .. at that moment, someone said.. isnt it rather cold in here? The air-conditioner for the large lecture room was stuck on, and no one could figure out how to turn it off.. (true)

So all you closet wall street'ers and you James Hanson rationalists and you Star Trek fairy-tale futurists.. a couple of nuclear disasters in the future and the profoundly fertile creation we live in is fouled for thousands of years .. There's no place like home, eh?

Re:Nuclear Dumping (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46134727)

So... because an air conditioning unit was jammed on in an apocryphal story posted on Slashdot, we're all going to die in the aftermath of nuclear disasters.

Got you.

Well that's an understatement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46134473)

"a comet carrying enough carbon-14 must have been over 100 km in diameter and would surely have left other evidence"

Yeah... but not anyone to find it.

I LOLd (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 9 months ago | (#46134625)

But astronomers have ruled that out on the basis that a comet carrying enough carbon-14 must have been over 100 km in diameter and would surely have left other evidence such as an impact crater... ... or perhaps the complete extinction of every living thing on the planet.

Explosive eruptions from Kirishima volcano (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46134805)

http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/de/kirishima.html
788 AD

Re:Explosive eruptions from Kirishima volcano (1)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 9 months ago | (#46134913)

And how would a volcano create Carbon 14?

More interestingly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46138509)

And how would a volcano create Carbon 14?

And, more interestingly, how would it send it 15 years back in time?

Re:Explosive eruptions from Kirishima volcano (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46134953)

The lower leg of the Fairbanks Creek mammoth had a radiocarbon age of 15,380 RCY (Radio Carbon Years), while its skin and flesh were 21,300 RCY. (Harold E. Anthony, Natures Deep Freeze. Natural History, Sept. 1949, p. 300).

6000 old mammoth Methuselah? Well that is scientific proof of Bible quotes. :)

Re:Explosive eruptions from Kirishima volcano (1)

bdeclerc (129522) | about 9 months ago | (#46135121)

Answer: the dating was for two *different* mammoths...

see : http://www.talkorigins.org/ind... [talkorigins.org]

Yeah? Well... (3, Interesting)

Jawnn (445279) | about 9 months ago | (#46134943)

FTFA...

One possible reason for the increase is that the Sun belched a superflare our way, engulfing the planet in huge cloud of high energy protons.

...and it could just be God, testing our faith. We learn from presentations at The Creation Museum that God does this all the time, putting riddles into nature to show us that we aren't all smart and sciency like we think we are. He could totally make a giant space gun that shoots high-energy protons at certain places in the earth to make it look like something happened a long time ago, just like he made it look like the dinosaurs lived way before Adam and Eve.

Riddle of 6000 years old mammoth :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46135037)

The lower leg of the Fairbanks Creek mammoth had a radiocarbon age of 15,380 RCY (Radio Carbon Years), while its skin and flesh were 21,300 RCY. (Harold E. Anthony, Natures Deep Freeze. Natural History, Sept. 1949, p. 300).

Re:Riddle of 6000 years old mammoth :) (1)

bdeclerc (129522) | about 9 months ago | (#46135401)

Nope, read some non-creationist sources (so you can be a bit more sure they're not just making things up...)

http://www.talkorigins.org/ind... [talkorigins.org]

Re:Riddle of 6000 years old mammoth :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46135671)

742 AD and later there was a lot of volcano activity there. When CO2 emission sharply dropped before 773 AD, Carbon 12 level in trees dropped suddenly too, but C14 LEVEL REMAINED THE SAME, SO ITS RATIO to C12 LEVEL SUDDENLY DOUBLED.
No plausible extraterrestrial explanation ? YOU DON't NEED ONE AT ALL. Please nominate me, humble coward for this year Nobel prize :))

Stupid Americans... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46135093)

And I quote: "This constant process of production and decay leaves the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere relatively constant at about one part in a trillion will be carbon-14."

Huh? Americans... what can you do...

Im looking on Google (3, Funny)

Stan92057 (737634) | about 9 months ago | (#46135697)

I'm looking at Google Earth right now, just give me a few minutes ill find the impact lol

cardon dating doesn't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46137719)

Carbon dating doesn't work. The worlds environment was different before the flood. The earth is only 6000 years old. Watch Kent Hovinds explanation on carbon dating. Actually carbon dating shows that the world can't be millions of years old.

All aboard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46138185)

Creationist trolls and their trolling on the trollaboat. No one is actually that stupid and still a functioning adult. Nice try though.

Comet? (1)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | about 9 months ago | (#46142251)

Yet another possibility is that a comet may have hit the Earth, dumping the extra carbon-14 in the atmosphere. But astronomers have ruled that out on the basis that a comet carrying enough carbon-14 must have been over 100 km in diameter and would surely have left other evidence such as an impact crater.

Not to mention completely obliterating all higher forms of life on the planet, you know, like astronomers...
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