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Supernova Casts Doubt on "Standard Candle"

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the chandrasekhar's-the-limit dept.

132

Krishna Dagli writes, "A supernova more than twice as bright as others of its type has been observed, suggesting it arose from a star that managed to grow more massive than theoretically thought possible. The observation suggests that Type 1a supernovae may not be 'standard candles' — all having the same intrinsic luminosity — as previously thought. This could affect their use as probes of dark energy, the mysterious force causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate."

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132 comments

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Ok... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16152629)

Ok, cue all the lame BitTorrent jokes..

Re:Ok... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16152836)

What lame Bitorrent jokes? there arent any. i put it to you that you saw the word "supernova" but couldnt think of a pun, so instead you obliquely referenced the fact that you noticed that the word "supernova" is loosely related to bittorrent, just so that the one moment in your life you came close to having something witty to say wasnt lost to posterity.

Oh really... (4, Funny)

tttonyyy (726776) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152636)

"twice as bright as others of its type"

Obviously not a /. reader then. ;)

Re:Oh really... (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152736)

Yes, of their Type 1a [wikipedia.org] that is.

Re:Oh really... (1)

ccarson (562931) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153861)

I'm not an astronomer but I try to keep up on this stuff. Isn't this significant? Correct me if I'm wrong but don't they use the wavelengths and template makeup from type 1a novas to gauge the distance at which the explosion occurred? If 1a novas aren't all the same, which this article suggests, aren't the ramifications from this pretty big? Wouldn't this put into question not only the current map of the known universe but also whether the rate of universal expansion?

Re:Oh really... (5, Funny)

Lissajous (989738) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152944)

"twice as bright as others of its type"

Obviously not a /. reader then. ;)

I don't get it.

Gravity Lensing? (1, Insightful)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152644)

Could this be an effect of gravity of surrounding galaxies lensing [space.com] the light from a 'normal' large star in our direction and just appearing brighter?

Ryan Fenton

Re:Gravity Lensing? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152678)

Could this be an effect of gravity of surrounding galaxies lensing the light from a 'normal' large star in our direction and just appearing brighter?

Or, for that matter, could it be a foreground star and not associated with that galaxy at all?

Re:Gravity Lensing? (1)

The_DOD_player (640135) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152750)

Not very likely since a massive star is short lived, and wont travel very far from it birth place in its short lifespan. Since a massive star obviuosly needs a lot of material, it cant very well be found outside a galaxy.

Re:Gravity Lensing? (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153099)

What if two (or more) not-so-massive stars collide outside a galaxy? Odds aren't great of it happening, but since the universe is so large, it's definitely going to happen somewhere.

Re:Gravity Lensing? (1)

qeveren (318805) | more than 7 years ago | (#16154245)

Type 1a supernovae aren't massive-star supernovae. They're accreting white-dwarf stellar remnants in binary systems. They can move a great distance from where they originated.

Re:Gravity Lensing? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16154313)

"...could it be a foreground star and not associated with that galaxy at all?"

Simply put, no.

A light spectrum clearly identifies a supernova for what it is. There is nothing else like it. Also, the redshift in the supernova and surrounding stars gives the distance fairly accurately.

Re:Gravity Lensing? (1)

dknj (441802) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152687)

i believe they have already factored that into the equation

Re:Gravity Lensing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16152810)

Thank you, Mr. Spock.

Re:Gravity Lensing? (1)

jdray (645332) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153518)

Yeah, but did they factor in the idea that it could be the tailpipe of some alien spaceship heading away from us using some technology we're not aware of because we're too stupid to be useful and therefore scheduled for destruction to put in an interstellar bypass?

I bet not!

Re:Gravity Lensing? (1)

gutnor (872759) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152866)

I wonder aswell but I guess ( I certainly hope ) that before putting some doubt on such a fundamental element of today science those professional astroner tooks the time to quickly discard most common reason for such a phenomenom: bad reading, bad calibration, lense effect, whatever other effect, ...
Especially since the news seems to originate from Nature, and if it took only 6 min to find a slashdot reader with a sensible explanation, I suspect it would not have taken much more time within Nature Readers.

But I suddenly realised that most "breaking" news in the IT field are generally PR Stunt or simple marketing bull.
So I adapt the question: Could that be an effect of some marketing campain to gain some public interest and possibly some funding ?

Re:Gravity Lensing? (3, Informative)

ByteSlicer (735276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152985)

Probably not. Gravitational lensing would cause a noticible shift [wikipedia.org] in the star's spectrum.

Re:Gravity Lensing? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16153483)

Probably not. Gravitational lensing would cause a noticible shift in the star's spectrum.

And why would that be? Wouldn't the light be blueshifted as it fell into the gravitational potential of the lens, and then redshifted as it escaped, for a net spectral shift of zero?

Re:Gravity Lensing? (1)

ByteSlicer (735276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153732)

Intreaguing question. Didn't consider the blueshift (mod me down :P).
My gut feeling says that because the light trajectory was altered by gravity, there must be some effect on it's spectrum. But I would have to do some difficult calculations to see if my gut is right (it is, after all, a very dumb organ). Need more coffee...

explain this one, evo-monkeys (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16152649)

Yet more proof that astrology is pseudoscience, and creationism is the way to go.

Re:explain this one, evo-monkeys (-1, Offtopic)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152679)

"Yet more proof that astrology is pseudoscience, and creationism is the way to go."

Just more proof that creationiss are idiots who don't know the difference between science and superstition :-)

Re:explain this one, evo-monkeys (-1, Offtopic)

misanthrope101 (253915) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152718)

Just more proof that creationiss are idiots who don't know the difference between science and superstition :-)
Not true, grasshopper. Michael "Darwin's Black Box" Behe redefined science in the Dover trial so it does, in an "Intelligently Designed" world such as the one the original poster lives in, include astrology. It doesn't include the voluminous peer-reviewed research into the evolution of the immune system, but it does include astrology. Natch, astronomy, geophysics, etc also have to go, because they contradict a literal reading of the KJV, but at least we get to keep horoscopes. And I ask you, isn't that enough?

Its the aliens i tell yah@! (-1, Flamebait)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152740)

All religeons are false and created by political people to control the masses (which are mostly dumb any way, just visit any govt dept)

So the aliens came along, being nice and all were not that much of a show off, but were amazing, but the people were
so utterly stupid they called em gods, (total lamers really) . Then the aliens got pissed off that these loosers
just had such small brains and that very few 0.0001% actually were smart to comprehend true science.

6000 years later here we are.

After all, do you personally hang around utterly stupid people? (unless they look like super models)

Re:Its the aliens i tell yah@! (2, Funny)

beckerist (985855) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153302)

allllright Tom Cruise, time to get off your soapbox!

Canada-France-Hawaii telescope? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16152682)

(note: I'm Canadian)
Why is the telescope called "Canada-France-Hawaii" instead of "Canada-France-USA" telescope?
Or did Hawaii separate from the US recently? ;-)

Thomas Dz.

Re:Canada-France-Hawaii telescope? (4, Informative)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152738)

because
CFHT is a joint facility of:

* National Research Council of Canada (see also Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics),
* Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique of France (see also CNRS/INSU ), and
* University of Hawaii (see also UH/IfA ).
i.e. two national bodies and one local body. This is all on their website http://www.cfht.hawaii.edu/ [hawaii.edu]

Re:Canada-France-Hawaii telescope? (5, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152756)

That's how we Americans do geography. We know where Hawaii is, and we know that Canada is (vaguely) north of us, and France is somewhere in Asia.

Re:Canada-France-Hawaii telescope? (-1, Flamebait)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152886)

Why do they separate out Canada from France when they are the same "run-from-trouble-and-appease-the-enemy" Vichy country?

Note: There were no sarcasm tags associated with that.

Re:Canada-France-Hawaii telescope? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16153021)

Pick up a clue [wikipedia.org] fuckwit.

Re:Canada-France-Hawaii telescope? (0, Offtopic)

Randolpho (628485) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153378)

Or did Hawaii separate from the US recently? ;-)
Well, there are those in Hawaii who are in favor of exactly that [wikipedia.org] . Among them, perhaps the most famous was Isreal Kamakawiwo'ole [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Canada-France-Hawaii telescope? (1)

Cerberus7 (66071) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153537)

Yeah, but he's dead. He played at my high school my senior year, and boy that guy was huge! Not much of a surprise that he died just a few years later. Of course, he was actually assassinated by the US government to keep the free Hawaii movement under control. [/tin-foil-hat]

Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16152688)

Now all we need is a Suprnova twice as bright.

That would make it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16152896)

... about has as smart as the average American.... almost too smart for the Rock industry!

The universe will out (4, Insightful)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152692)

Models are just that, models. Change them when the universe shoves reality down your throat. Far too many people think that math defines the universe instead of describing it.

Re:The universe will out (5, Interesting)

rocketman768 (838734) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152720)

I think you are exactly right. I am a mathematician. People should understand that all of mathematics is an abstract concept created by humans. Why does 2+3 = 5? Because we said it does...not because it is universally true. Sometimes (in the case of 'models'), we put some math together to attempt to explain what we see. As we discover new behaviors in whatever system we're looking at, we have to change the math. So, this article is about one of those instances.

Re:The universe will out (1)

MECC (8478) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152848)

"Why does 2+3 = 5? Because we said it does...not because it is universally true."

While the notion that a mathematical model can be flawed is something that is easily conceivable, the "2+3=5 only true because of consensus" idea paints all of math as merely arbitrary, and I don't think it is. I think most, if not all, of math holds together rather well as an integrated system.

Re:The universe will out (5, Interesting)

KutuluWare (791333) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152892)

I think his point would be more accurately expressed as this:

"Why is 2 + 3 = 5?"

Because the arbitrary definitions which we assigned to the symbols 2, 3, 5, +, and = happen to represent real-world concepts that exhibit the behavior that 2 + 3 = 5, and not because there is any abstract universal rule that "2 + 3 = 5" and we simply need to find real-world behavior to prove it. That is, the real-world behavior has always existed, but the mathematical language used to express it was invented by us and assigned to those behaviors specifically to make the mathematics true.

(Or something, it's early.)

--K

Re:The universe will out (4, Interesting)

inviolet (797804) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153250)

Because the arbitrary definitions which we assigned to the symbols 2, 3, 5, +, and = happen to represent real-world concepts that exhibit the behavior that 2 + 3 = 5, and not because there is any abstract universal rule that "2 + 3 = 5" and we simply need to find real-world behavior to prove it.

Quoted for truth. I want to elaborate (i.e. ramble) on it a bit . . .

Numbers are indeed a deductive system: they are true because they are defined to be true. They are true in all conceivable universes. This makes them useful but also hollow: they contain no empirical content, and hence are immune to all conceivable experimental results.

Nevertheless, they (and all other deductive symbols) can participate in inductive statements, such as "2 algae cells will combine with 3 fungi cells to produce 1 lichen".

Re:The universe will out (1)

jdray (645332) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153592)

Is that to say that the additive property of integers exists only because we've defined integers to be what they are? Seems reasonable to me. It makes me wonder how things would be different if we had (or even could have) decided to conceive of things in real numbers always.

Ooohh... I just made my head hurt.

Re:The universe will out (1)

c600g (30798) | more than 7 years ago | (#16154383)

I believe that before numbers were in common use, it is thought that the concept of one/singular (e.g. me) and many (e.g. you all) was used. It was quite a leap to go to specific numbers, and a further leap to finally get the idea of zero/none. There was an interesting show on the Discovery|History channel about this a while back, I think.

Re:The universe will out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16154508)

Integers came about due to the need to count discrete items, for example heads of sheep or barrels of wheat. We'll always need that ability so don't count on integers disappearing any time soon.

Re:The universe will out (1)

DaveWick79 (939388) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153692)

I think that those of us who have fingers can very easily define 2+3=5. There's nothing abstract about it, as if the numbers '2' or '3' were some sort of concept which could be defined in multiple ways depending on perspective. Can I by thinking about it, have 7 fingers instead of 5?

Re:The universe will out (3, Interesting)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152864)

So why is it that electric fields follow the law of superposition, which is an additive law working precisely as we said addition should thousands of years before we ever imagined electric fields? Furthermore, how is it that we can "prediscover" phenomena? We develop a model to describe existing data, and whoops!, there's another phenomenon implicit in our model, and sure enough when we look for it in reality, there it is!

This is a fairly poor summarization of the argument made by Tom Siegfried (used to be chief science writer for the Dallas Morning News, now he's somewhere else) in his book Strange Matters.

Perhaps you are right, and mathematics is just something we came up with. However, where did we come up with it from? Our brains. Our brains are part of the universe, so if the universe is goverrned by laws which can be well expressed in mathematical language, one might predict that brains would invent mathematics.

Re:The universe will out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16152913)

Because after lots of thinking, smart people decided that's the best model that describes the behavior of the electric field. Seriously, do you think the universe works with a scientific calculator in hand to figure out the path of each photon or it JUST EXISTS and we try our best to understand it on our own terms?

Re:The universe will out (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16153171)

Do you often refute your own arguments?

If mathematics were just some invention of ours, then the universe would need a calculator in hand to figure out what to do next. We know the universe follows relatively simple mathematical laws. So, what?--Does it then comply to our whims and inventions? No, of course not! Our mathematics complies to its nature; not just in our use of it, but in the very nature of mathematics.

It's absurd how well mathematics models the world. So absurd, it may be impossible to explain it otherwise.

Re:The universe will out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16153407)

Mathematics is just an invention of ours. Why would the universe need anything depending on our activities? Your point of view baffles me.

"We know the universe follows relatively simple mathematical laws."

No. You have a set of rules called mathematics, that some people have observed correspond to how some things behave in our universe. Just because we invented LANGUAGE and we can describe how the wind rustles the leaves in a tree, doesn't mean the universe speaks English.

Seriously, I think you need to stop basking in the glow of your bachelor's degree and start thinking for yourself a bit.

"It's absurd how well mathematics models the world."

It's absurd how well English describes the world. So absurd, it may be impossible to explain it otherwise. The universe speaks English.

Re:The universe will out (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153323)

Perhaps you are right, and mathematics is just something we came up with. However, where did we come up with it from? Our brains. Our brains are part of the universe, so if the universe is goverrned by laws which can be well expressed in mathematical language, one might predict that brains would invent mathematics.


There's little need for such an elaborate argument. Mathematics is something we came up with to describe and quantify the world we see around us. The fact that mathematics is so good at describing nature and natural phenomena is hardly surprising if one considers that mathematics was from the beginning, built to describe these ideas.

Number, quantity, time, order, coalesance, divergence, dimension, distance, speed, etc, etc. Mathematics was slowly but surely developed and refined to be able to accurately describe all these physical phenomena, and to allow us to infer their qualities and properties based one the simple relationships and actions they exhibit.

Mathematics is not a game played with numbers that have no meaning. First we find the numbers in nature, infer their basic properties. The properties that we "prove" are simply physical facts, that exist independant of our ability to make theorems. That the area of a triangle inscribed in a circle is equal to the product of its three sides divided by four times the circles radius is a physical fact, not resulting from our mathematical manipulations, but one which our mathematics can only "prove" because they correctly describe and quantify all of the geometrical entites involved. And they do this beacause we built them to do that.

So the next time you wonder why vector calculus describes electromagnetism so well, or why biological problems are solved so well by statistical models, understand that the mathematics used was, from the very beginning constructed to solve such problems, i.e. problems of the physical world, by finding the basics and working from there. And in case you think that this is all too convienient, just look at the problems that mathematics can't solve. Spam for instance.

Re:The universe will out (3, Insightful)

saider (177166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153583)

That the area of a triangle inscribed in a circle is equal to the product of its three sides divided by four times the circles radius is a physical fact...

Only for perfectly flat space. In reality, all space is curved even if by just a little bit.

We generally discover that what we believe to be a fundamental truth is often dependant on assumptions that we are not aware of. This is where brilliant minds discover more about our world by exposing these hidden assumptions.

Also, we tend to aggregate things for convenience. But the universe does not concern itself with such things. To the universe, 2 apples + 3 apples is simply a lot of quantum particles going about their business. We may have simplified things to 2+3, but that is not what it really is. 2+3 works for most cases, but there will be edges where the simpler math breaks down and if you do not realize that you are dealing with quantum particles instead of a few apples, you may become very frustrated.

Re:The universe will out (1)

jdray (645332) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153771)

That the area of a triangle inscribed in a circle is equal to the product of its three sides divided by four times the circles radius is a physical fact...

Only for perfectly flat space. In reality, all space is curved even if by just a little bit.

So your argument is with the physical fact part and not the rest, right? The description of the method for determining the area of a triangle is indeed fact where mathematics is concerned. Math, when applied to the real world, loses a certain amount of its effectiveness. We humans, in our rush to convenience, accept a certain amount of data loss, such as that imposed by the curve of space you mention.

Also, an apple is an apple; it also happens to be a collection of atoms of various types, but we've agreed that it's an apple, whether it's a Red Delicious or Gala, large or small, or even with or without worms in it. In this fashion we describe objects in our universe, even people and trolls. So, given an object that is somehow manageable in size, no matter its makeup, we can create collections of them (you know, those atoms are really only collections of certain types of protons, electrons, etc.), and then describe collections of those collections, such as a bushel of apples.

And now, speaking of going about one's business, I think I'll do that, having applied my management capability to the screen you're now looking at, causing it to throw certain photonic particles at that collection of atoms you call visual receptors or eyes or whatever, which really only change the photonic energy into electrical signals, inducing chemical changes (collections of atoms, called molecules, get together and form other collections called chemicals, which are deposited in that collection of various other chemicals you refer to as a brain...). Oh, I am so done here.

Re:The universe will out (1)

Burz (138833) | more than 7 years ago | (#16154480)

Yet apples are more than just a human concept; they are a class of real objects. Without classes (belonging to sets) we can't have numeracy. So we would have to ask whether the cosmos itself accomodates classes on a fundamental level. Looking at the subatomic world, I'd say it does. The underlying uniformity gives rise to increasing uniformity and predictability at higher levels, larger connected scopes of space, energy/matter and time... until we get to the point where we can count apples and stars with integers in addition to electron orbits.

Why is it that birds and horses can count (and understand class)? Because the environment (the cosmos) makes necessary the ability for brains to reflect on that same environment in order for such an organ to be of any use.

Re:The universe will out (3, Interesting)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153662)

This is certainly true, but don't undersell math, either. The amazing part of math is that, given certain axioms and definitions crafted to describe and fit easily-observed physical phenomena, logical extrapolations of those axioms and definitions can accurately describe physical phenomena we have not yet observed.

That is, mathematics is not purely descriptive as it relates to science. As an example, it is my understanding that the phenomenon of time dilation as velocity increases towards c was first "observed" as a result of mathematical manipulations of exsiting models, long before it was (or could be) experimentally observed.

If math were purely descriptive, this would not be the case - or, if it were, it would be only by sheerest chance; the exception, rather than the rule.

I agree, of course, that math comes out of description; 2+3=5 because those numbers represent specific physical quantities, and when you have real items in those quantities, they behave in that fashion. However, I can't help believing that there is something inherently "real" about math itself, since the logical structure of math agrees so well with physical reality so often - enough so, in fact, that the mathematical understanding of a physical phenomenon can predate observation of that physical phenomenon.

Re:The universe will out (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#16154507)

That is, mathematics is not purely descriptive as it relates to science.

Math is just barely descriptive to science, the tables of values in my thermodynamics class was purely descriptive to science. But by the time you've gotten so far that you have mathemathical formula, it's essentially predictive. If we know that f(x) holds for x_min...x_max, the prediction would naturally be that it holds for 0.5*x_min or 2*x_max. If we know two formulas, the prediction would also be that f(x,y) = f(x) + f(y). Of course you might be wrong, either because the formula isn't valid in itself, it interacts with other forces or there's a third force f(z) at that scale that noone knew existed. But if you wanted to give a "best guess" on a formula like f(G,t) where G is the gravitational constant and t is time.... I say the odds are pretty good gravity will be the same tomorrow as it was today. It's entirely predictive though, since noone has observed gravity tomorrow yet.

Re:The universe will out (1)

Thuktun (221615) | more than 7 years ago | (#16154806)

The amazing part of math is that, given certain axioms and definitions crafted to describe and fit easily-observed physical phenomena, logical extrapolations of those axioms and definitions can accurately describe physical phenomena we have not yet observed. [...] If math were purely descriptive, this would not be the case [...]
This is logically fallacious. If a mathematical model predicts previously-unknown real-world behavior, it is either descriptive of the world or it is prescriptive. While it might be interesting to be able to influence the universe by writing mathematical equations, I doubt that's actually the case, so the model is indeed descriptive.

Re:The universe will out (1)

Randolpho (628485) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153675)

properties that we "prove" are simply physical facts, that exist independant of our ability to make theorems. That the area of a triangle inscribed in a circle is equal to the product of its three sides divided by four times the circles radius is a physical fact, not resulting from our mathematical manipulations, but one which our mathematics can only "prove" because they correctly describe and quantify all of the geometrical entites involved. And they do this beacause we built them to do that.
To expand on this... we haven't actually "proven" that the area of a triangle inscribed in a circle is equal to the product of its three sides devided by four times the circle's radius [A = (abc)/(4r)] is a physical fact. We have only worked such an equation out from basic mathematical principles (principal principles, you might say) that we believe to be true. Those principles have been tested many times and appear correct -- at least as precisely as we are able to measure and test them. That equation has been tested many times and appears to be correct -- at least as precisely as we are able to measure the area of a triangle, and the lengths of its sides and the length of a circle.

There's a key point here: those principles might break down for certain hitherto unimagined phsyical cirumstances, and when they do we'll re-think the model. Take Einsteinian physics, for example. Newtonian physics remained true for the general case (as far as we could tell) for centuries. Einstein re-evaluated Newtonian physics for bodies moving close to the speed of light, and he has appeared to be correct (at least as far as we can tell). When we observe something different, we'll re-think the model. That's the nature of science and math.

Re:The universe will out (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153489)

Real-world measurements don't exactly work out the way you would have us believe.

"So why is it that electric fields follow the law of superposition, which is an additive law working precisely as we said addition should thousands of years before we ever imagined electric fields?"

Except when you actually do the measurements, you get a slight variance. Why should we get some discrepancy? I thought this was precise mathematics, proven sturdy for thousands of years. 'Well,' the answer goes, 'the measurement tools aren't precise enough.' So we make tools more precise, and the variance gets smaller, presumably ad infinitum. But does it really work out ad inifitum? I mean, it always works out on paper. Why shouldn't it be exact in real life then? Maybe it actually starts diverging at a certain scale? Maybe the mathematical model breaks down at some point? How do we know unless we go down all the way?

The answer is, "if we had perfect measurement, it would work out perfectly" Okay, but when you say that, you are making a metaphysical statement, not a scientific ( e. g. measurable or demonstrable ) statement.

As we have seen with Newtonian physics and Einsteinian space/time continuum, the model is always provisional. Newtonian physics works for the most part in our everyday experience. And hey, Newton 'pre-discovered' that the laws of motions were the same in the heavens as they were here on Earth -- that the moon was a falling body that never quite hit, unlike the apple. I would say that mathematics are just a model. The philosophy you are promoting is called 'platonism' which *basically* says that reality is the laws or mathematics, and this physical world we see is just some kind of epiphenomenon

" Our brains are part of the universe, so if the universe is goverrned by laws which can be well expressed in mathematical language, one might predict that brains would invent mathematics."

You would have to assume that brains can actually understand the 'laws', whatever they are. I predict that brains might also invent pseudo-math, which are human-invented models of reality that do a pretty good job of modelling and predicting the universe, but are incomplete or totally wrong in some places, but they are actually totally different than the laws that govern the universe. So how do we know whether we are using 'real' math or the psuedo-math? Judging from history, one would say we are creating better and better psuedo-math.

We still don't have a mathematical theory of everything.

Re:The universe will out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16153746)

Exactly.

Or for another example, suppose John's moving away from Susan at (2/4)c, and Susan's moving away from Pat at (3/4)c. Then obviously John's moving away from Pat at (5/4)c. 2 + 3 = 5! Isn't it great that the world works exactly the way we said it would thousands of years ago?

Re:The universe will out (2, Insightful)

maynard (3337) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153758)

Furthermore, how is it that we can "prediscover" phenomena? We develop a model to describe existing data, and whoops!, there's another phenomenon implicit in our model, and sure enough when we look for it in reality, there it is!

I suspect this is like our response to red traffic lights. We remember the annoyance of having to stop, but rarely remember all the times we sail through a green light. Often, people will complain about 'bad luck' with red lights as a result. But the reality is that the red lights aren't directing their stopping power at you - per se.

In the same vein, there are many, many, many inaccurate predictions made in science that experiment refutes. These predictions often have a mathematical basis. So, I'm arguing that you're forgetting about all the many predictions that turn out false in order to focus on those that turn out true (a sort of reverse of the red light phenomena).

Re:The universe will out (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152968)

Why does 2+3 = 5? Because we said it does...not because it is universally true.

I don't know about that. I am not a mathematician, but I've always been pretty sure that we defined numbers and addition, but specific instances of their usage, like "2 + 3 = 5" are not defined but instead logically induced (or deduced, I forget) from those base definitions. And given the base definitions, 2+3=5 is universally true.

Re:The universe will out (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153154)

And given the base definitions, 2+3=5 is universally true.

2+3=5 is not univserally true, it is true within the framework of a common set of axioms. Here is an example of a simple set of axioms which allow us to prove that 2+3 = 5 (within the framework of those axioms):

Let s(X) be the successor function applied to the variable X.
Let 0 be a symbol in our algebra.
Let 0 = 0. (1)
Let s(X) = s(X) if and only if X = Y. (2)
We now have equality defined.

Let X + 0 = X. (3)
Let X + s(Y) = s(X) + Y. (4)
Let X + Y = Y + X. (5)
We now have addition defined.

We define a set of symbols such that 2 = s(s(0)), 3 = s(s(s(0))), and 5 = s(s(s(s(s(0))))).
2+3 = 5 is therefore equivalent to s(s(0) + s(s(s(0))) = s(s(s(s(s(0))))).

We can rewrite this by applying our axoims (axiom number given in brackets) so that:
s(s(s(0))) + s(s(0)) = s(s(s(s(s(0))))) (4)
s(s(s(s(0)))) + s(0) = s(s(s(s(s(0))))) (4)
s(s(s(s(s(0))))) + 0 = s(s(s(s(s(0))))) (4)
s(s(s(s(s(0))))) = s(s(s(s(s(0))))) (3)
s(s(s(s(0)))) = s(s(s(s(0)))) (2)
s(s(s(0))) = s(s(s(0))) (2)
s(s(0)) = s(s(0)) (2)
s(0) = s(0) (2)
0 = 0 (2)

This gives axiom 0, and so is true.

Anyone wanting to play with these ideas in a more hands-on way should download a prolog implementation (I recommend SWI Prolog [swi-prolog.org] ). You can implement these axioms in prolog as the following program (the first two are implicitly defined):

% add(X,Y,Z) predicate represents X + Y = Z
add(X,0,X).
add(X,s(Y),Z) :- add(s(X),Y,Z).
add(X,Y,Z) :- add(Y,X,Z).
You can then ask it questions in the following way:
?- add(s(s(0)),s(s(s(0))),Five).

Five = s(s(s(s(s(0)))))

Yes
Your homework from this post is to extend this system to define multiplication.

Re:The universe will out (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153572)

Me: And given the base definitions, 2+3=5 is universally true.
You: 2+3=5 is not universally true, it is true within the framework of a common set of axioms.

Now I think it should be obvious that by "base definitions" I pretty much meant your "common set of axioms", though of course I couldn't write out the exact axioms without doing some reasearch. And in my post I forgot that besides numbers and addition we also needed to define equality. So given the definitions, or the framework of a common set of axioms, or whatever, it is universally true. Unless you claim that the "universally" part negates the "given" part, which would mean that the phrase "universally true" is an oxymoron because you always need definitions/axioms/whatever to work with (not the least of which are the definitions of "universal" and "true".)

Re:The universe will out (1)

Bemopolis (698691) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153376)

"Why does 2+3 = 5?" It doesn't — 2+3 = 10.

You have to understand, my math teacher only had one hand.

Bemopolis

Re:The universe will out (1)

pmancini (20121) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153424)

Its also well know that 2+2 = 5

for very large values of 2.

Re:The universe will out (1)

stevey (64018) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153679)

Its also well know that 2+2 = 5

for very large values of 2.

Or very small values of 5.

Re:The universe will out (1)

idonthack (883680) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153707)

Why does 2+3 = 5? Because we said it does...not because it is universally true.
So, if I said that you were a carrot, it would be correct because I said so? Even if it weren't universally true, you would still be a carrot. I could grate you and put you in a salad, like any other carrot.

Re:The universe will out (1)

Randolpho (628485) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153804)

Why does 2+3 = 5? Because we said it does...not because it is universally true.
So, if I said that you were a carrot, it would be correct because I said so? Even if it weren't universally true, you would still be a carrot. I could grate you and put you in a salad, like any other carrot.
No, if you said he was a carrot, you would be placing a label, "carrot", upon him. That label is external to the actual himness of him.
2 is a label for a quantity. 3 is a label for a quantity. 5 is a label for a quantity. Addition is an operation that we have invented to help us label/determine a quantity from two other quantities.
In some cases, 2 + 3 is not equal to 5. For example, if my number base is 5, 2+3=10. In this case, the label 10 refers to the same quantity that the label 5 refers to in base 10 number systems. Why? Because that's how we defined the number systems.
So, yes, 2+3=5 because we said it does.
However... the quantities that we labeled 2, 3, and 5 *are* universally true.

Re:The universe will out (1)

bigpat (158134) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153739)

Why does 2+3 = 5? Because we said it does...not because it is universally true.

Wouldn't it be universally true because it is consistent with what has been defined? That is precisely what is so useful about mathematics in science, it is not dependent on observation, but merely needs to be consistent with simple rules that have been defined. In science, mathematics is used as a reference system.

Certainly mathematics started as a way to describe real world phenomena, but its definition is no longer linked to those phenomena. Take Riemann versus Euclidean geometry, both are true in the sense that they are consistent with their own rules and both have been useful as reference systems for different scales of observation.

Or take a different example, you put 2 cows in one ends of the barn, put another 3 cows in after that, but 6 cows come out the other side. Doesn't mean that 2 + 3 doesn't equal 5, because that is what the definition of the mathematical rules still calls for. But you might needs some new rules, or you might need another reference such as time, or maybe you had better check the barn first next time you make your observation.

Re:The universe will out (1)

aug24 (38229) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153831)

People should understand that all of mathematics is an abstract concept created by humans.

What utter cobblers.

Consider that other animals show the capacity to do maths. Monkeys are surprised when, for example, a box is shown to them containing two apples, then another three apples are put in a box and when the box is opened there are only four in there. They have understanding of addition, subtraction and probably commutation.

A lot of mathematics is stuff the brain (human or animal) has observed about the universe. 2+3=5 in this universe, no matter what you think. The only invention we have put into that is the codification.

Justin.
(Also a mathematician. And a physicist.)

Re:The universe will out (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152722)

But, but, there was a consensus. To go against the consensus isn't, ummmmmmmm, well, politics.

KFG

Re:The universe will out (1)

Inverted Intellect (950622) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152758)

Far too many people think that math defines the universe instead of describing it.
I find that not at all odd, given how mathematics have proven unreasonably effective [wikipedia.org] in describing the universe we find ourselves to be a part of. Or so I feel. Math feels a little bit like magic to those who don't have a firm grasp of it. Hell, I have a decent grasp of mathematics in general, but it still seems a bit mystical to me. Sort of. Disclaimer: My worldview is entirely naturalistic. I'm not describing my reasoned (or otherwise accepted) conclusions on how things are, but rather how these things feel to me.

Re:The universe will out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16152973)

I find that not at all odd, given how mathematics have proven unreasonably effective in describing the universe we find ourselves to be a part of.

When the math works, it means there is a fairly robust model. However, the original model is more reliant on imagination - For example, Dark Energy arose out of Einstein's math, however, the reason it arose was because of his philisophical belief in an unchanging universe.

Re:The universe will out (1)

inviolet (797804) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153292)

I find that not at all odd, given how mathematics have proven unreasonably effective in describing the universe we find ourselves to be a part of.

Yep yep. Mathematics makes possible the completely astounding feat of being able to build a bridge out of precise amounts of raw materials, knowing ahead of time exactly how much wind and weight it will ultimately be able to bear.

Of course, any engineer worth his salt will build his bridge out of Rearden Metal . . . :)

Re:The universe will out (1)

Nereus (733242) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152761)

All models are wrong, but some models are useful. - George Box

Re:The universe will out (1)

el_womble (779715) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152799)

The difference between theory and practice is that in theory there is no difference, but practice there always is. -- Someone far cleverer than me

Platonist viewpoint (1)

chaosmage42 (716255) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152998)

That's the Platonist viewpoint, that mathematicians are discovering mathematical truths that already exist, rather than constructing them out of a formal system. A mathematical reality exists independently of us, and of anything. We, as imperfect beings can only get close to it, to approximate it {perhaps with these things called models}. This view was quite popular among mathematicians until the 20th century turn on objectivity. Gödel is an example of a Platonist.

Re:The universe will out (2, Interesting)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153077)

There have already been doubts about the uniformity of brightness of a supernova. Some people think that non-polar and non-equatorial viewpoints are possibly less brigtht than polar or equatorial views.

Re:The universe will out (1)

Speare (84249) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153307)

  • An engineer thinks that aside from imperfect materials, the models approximate reality,
  • A physicist thinks that aside from sensor unreliability, reality approximates the model,
  • A mathematician doesn't care.

creators' newclear power casts doubt on (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16152711)

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This is a GOOD thing.... (5, Interesting)

trip11 (160832) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152766)

...as supernova are not well understood. First off I am not an astrophysicist, though I am a high energy physicist (and have taken some astro classes). One thing that has been discussed in nuclear classes I have taken is how little we understand just how a supernova functions at the atomic level. The number of competing effects going on during the collapse of a star is just amazing. You have gravitational pull, thermal pressure, rotational 'pressure', electromagnetic forces in a regular star. Now you start to collapse the star and you have to add in the transition of millions of individual nuclei becoming in effect one large nucleous as they all mearge. (not to mention the energy output from this). In effect the strong force comes into play along with the standard EM and gravitational forces. It gets much more complicated than that, but it has been several years since those classes.

So why do I think this is a 'good thing'? As the article speculates, it is likely that this supernova was different because of some rotational process or perhaps colliding stars, or some other exotic combination. This is exactly the sort of process that can be used as a test of supernova models to see how well they do. Over all I find this a very exciting observation and hopefully it produces more new science!

Re:This is a GOOD thing.... (1)

inviolet (797804) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153431)

The number of competing effects going on during the collapse of a star is just amazing. You have gravitational pull, thermal pressure, rotational 'pressure', electromagnetic forces in a regular star. Now you start to collapse the star and you have to add in the transition of millions of individual nuclei becoming in effect one large nucleous as they all mearge. (not to mention the energy output from this). In effect the strong force comes into play along with the standard EM and gravitational forces. It gets much more complicated than that, but it has been several years since those classes.

We've discussed the intriguing notion that the universe is a computer simulation. In fact there is some compelling evidence that this is so -- not least of which being the Law of Conservation of Information. A supernova, then, requires a massive amount of computation.

Perhaps the code looks like this:

neutronstar* supernova(supergiant* src)
{
//
// We used to calculate all the physics forces here,
// but it kept bogging the system down, we're talking
// hundreds of threads.
// So now we'll just emit a blast of photons that is
// bright enough to obscure the scene, and then just
// alloc a neutron star in its place.
//
src->emitPhotons(rand() * 25600000000000000000);

coordinates xyzt = src->location();
weight initialMass = src->mass();
delete src;
src = NULL;

neutronstar* ret = new neutronstar(xyzt, initialMass);
ret->ignite();
return ret;
}

more important than 'probes of dark energy' (3, Interesting)

i_should_be_working (720372) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152771)

The observation suggests supernovae of this type are not "standard candles" as previously thought, which could affect their use as probes of dark energy - the mysterious force causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate.

If true, this wouldn't just affect their use as probes of dark energy. These standard candles are used to tell how far away things are and how fast they are moving. The age of the universe could be in doubt.

But I have a hunch this particular supernova will turn out to be an anomaly. Not that I'm a astrophysicist or anything.

Re:more important than 'probes of dark energy' (4, Interesting)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152941)

I doubt it. Our actual measurements of dark energy won't come under much increased doubt. Although Type IA supernovae the first (IIRC) indicator of dark energy, we still have a number of other indicators. I was just as PASCOS 2006, and saw several talks on dark energy, where various quantities related to the acceleration of the universe were really overconstrained by about 4-5 different measurements. The only one I can recall at the moment is gravitational lensing. The neat thing is that although overconstraint has the possibility to show an inconsistency, it doesn't do so here. The measurements all line up at one point (well, a distribution around one point, but that distribution is quite nicely peaked in one location, indicating consistency.).

Similarly, Type IA SN are not the only mechanism by which we measure the age of the universe, so I'm not too concerned. The other reason I'm not too concerned is that the age of the universe was already in doubt. Another talk at PASCOS dealt with something else that I can't recall at the moment (curse my memory in the morning!) that cast into simultaneous doubt all or nearly all of our universe age indicators. IIRC, according to his talk, the universe could well be 20% older than our current best estimate.

Of course, since all these are not quite my field (I was at PASCOS for the particle physics), I can't answer for whether or not these guys were just crazies and all the cosmologists were ignoring them, or if these are serious problems that will be dealt with in the next few years. I'd be inclined, however, to assume that they were quite legit.

Re:more important than 'probes of dark energy' (1)

i_should_be_working (720372) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153202)

That's comforting that not too much depends on these supernovae. I had thought they were the beginning and end to many of the measurements we have on the universe.

ultimate fate and scientific knowledge (1)

brian.glanz (849625) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153862)

Aside even from the age of the universe, at stake would be whether the universe is in fact expanding at the widely understood rate, or perhaps whether the universe is expanding at all. IOW at stake again is the question of ultimate fate.

It seems in TFA that astronomers do have some data to reevaluate, toss, and that these fundamental calculations could be in flux. This is exciting, we might not be expanding to oblivion, instead we might be contracting to oblivion like we thought we were before! Knowledgeable comments here seem to think otherwise, that inconsistency related to what should be consistent Chandrasekhar mass in supernovae won't ultimately affect universal expansion calculations. My amateur reading of expert opinion: this does matter, at least theoretically in the special case, and probably for the more general cosmological cases, too. We'll see.

On the related ultimate fate question, I've often wondered why popular astronomers seem to think either (1) it's all going to contract indefinitely -- so we'll perish in an ultimate crunch, or (2) it's all going to expand indefinitely -- so we'll perish in an ultimate fade. Either way we're meaningless in the end, and there is entirely nothing we can do about it.

Well gee, pardon my optimism, but couldn't anyone entertain the possibility of flux in the amount of matter and energy in the observable universe? Couldn't we suppose that black holes leaking into imaginary time, or parallel matter in higher dimensions, or some other mechanism might possibly exist by which we are ... I dunno, not ultimately meaningless? Is it not possible to suppose the universe might expand, slow down, contract, slow down, expand again -- but never singularly or infinitely? Must our most eminent scientists pretend they know certainly what truly they only predict theoretically based on their best current knowledge?

The scientists instead seem to rather gleefully predict our penultimate doom of one sort or the other. They seem so sure of themselves on the television and in major lectures, they state predictions as if they are knowledge and not subject to change. This doesn't jive at all with the scientific method nor with critical thought, while certainty even if imagined might serve some personal, human emotional needs just fine.

I wonder whether their attitude hurts the public's acceptance of critical thinking as a modus operandi. Could it be that scientists' certain-doom-speak has precipitated less acceptance of the scientific method, of scientists, and of scientific observation and theory? Could it be that the public, so often maligned on /. and in scientific circles, sees through the chicanery used to win grants and sell books and whatnot? Could it be that scientists end up looking just like religious nuts who believe something rather than observing and analysing and hypothesizing? Could it be that given a choice between one nut who says we're definitely doomed and another who says we're definitely in control of our fate, the public supposes "might as well go with the hopeful one?"

I do think this discovery is illuminating with respect to the limits of our knowledge, not that we should need further evidence of such. If I may make this prediction, based on our long history of not fully knowing what we thought we knew: I find it likely that some discovery in the near future will fundamentally change our understanding of our universe. I would even predict we will never know everything. I predict in other words that again in the longer future, then again in the distant future and again unpredictably forever after, we will happen upon discoveries which fundamentally alter our understandings.

Given that, I suggest scientists would be better understood and more respected if we stopped pretending we know what we merely predict, assume, or suppose. The public might not collectively make a great mathematician or considerate strategist, but they're sometimes quite good at smelling a rat. Given only rats to choose from, they'll take whichever makes the most entertaining pet. BG

In astronomy 2=1 (1)

Xhris (97992) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152775)

This is astronomy. Astronomers are generally happy getting thing to an order of magnitude. I am not sure one supernova that is twice as bright is going to change things that much.

Disclaimers: IRAAA (I really am an astronomer), but I know nothing about using SN as standard candles (other than the fact that they are used...). No, I did not RTFA.

Micro Supernova simulated in the lab (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152785)

http://www.proton21.com.ua/ [proton21.com.ua]

They simulated a micro super nova here

Producing micro fussion/fission and creation of new materials.

The observational evidence is surprisingly scanty (5, Informative)

StupendousMan (69768) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152793)

I study supernovae for a living.

The Nature paper in which this work is published has a figure showing all the measurements of this supernova's brightness; you can see it on Nature's web site at

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v443/n7109/fi g_tab/nature05103_F1.html [nature.com]

There are four measurements near time of maximum light, in the red (r) and near-infrared (i) passbands. There are many more measurements starting about 15 days after maximum light in the rest frame, including some in a blue-green (g) passband. Here's what the researchers did to find the maximum brightness of this supernova, so that they could compare it to others:

    a) fit models based on the light curves of other supernovae to the r and i measurements,
                  and the late-time g measurements

    b) choose a different passband -- the greenish V passband of the Johnson-Cousins system,
                  which is closest to their own g passband (the one with no data at max light)

    c) use their models to estimate what the light curve in the V filter would have been

This can be a tricky business. Their major conclusion, that this supernova was more luminous than typical ones, is probably correct, but their claim that they can measure the peak magnitude in the V-band to an uncertainty of 6 percent seems a bit bold.

As the press release states, if atypical SNe are very rare, then this probably doesn't have any major impact on the use of Type Ia SNe in cosmology.

Its all Greek to me (3, Funny)

JonnyCalcutta (524825) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153200)

So what you are saying is....eh....the thing with the........when the thing with the other thing goes...to.....because the wotsit is like the..eh....so, do they run Linux in their lab?

Re:The observational evidence is surprisingly scan (1)

Quaoar (614366) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153455)

Question for you: These Type 1a Supernova are used as one step on the distance ladder, correct? So if we no longer believe they all have the same brightness, that means the distance we have on record for many objects is now wrong?

Re:The observational evidence is surprisingly scan (2, Insightful)

StupendousMan (69768) | more than 7 years ago | (#16154066)



These Type 1a Supernova are used as one step on the distance ladder, correct?


Type Ia supernovae are indeed one of the last rungs on the distance ladder; they can be used to estimate distances to very distant galaxies.



So if we no longer believe they all have the same brightness, that means the distance we have on record for many objects is now wrong?



No, that's an overstatement. Type Ia supernovae are one of several different indicators used to estimate distances to very distant galaxies -- not the only one. _If_ we suddenly thought that the luminosity of _all_ Type Ia supernovae was significantly higher, _then_ we would have to re-examine the agreement between distances derived from Type Ia supernovae and other methods. The net effect might be a slight shift in the value of the Hubble constant, which is used to estimate distances to really, really distant objects.


However, if only 1 in 100 or fewer Type Ia supernovae are more luminous than expected, it won't make any significant difference in studies which use lots of supernovae.

This just advances science (2, Informative)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152800)

It's a pretty familier story, and essential for the advancement of science.

The standard candle was a theory, one that worked well, and now it's in doubt, indicating either that its wrong, or it's incomplete. I'd vote for the latter personally.
That's usually a safe bet...

That's how things move forward.
I shortcut this process. I proved one of my hypothesis wrong even though it had withstood initial tests which indicated correctness. It probably saved a lot of time, but lost me a conference trip, dammit.

Oh, I get it... (2, Funny)

AckutarQuesinta (687786) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152840)

dark energy, the mysterious force

Dark energy? the mysterious force? Oh, I get it, we found the death star [wikipedia.org] !

That was funny right? *nudge**nudge*

Lukas Rossi won (0, Offtopic)

ylikone (589264) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152859)

Can we stop talking about Supernova now? Besides, I really don't think this band has the ability to think about or comment on things such as "standard candle"... oh wait... wrong site... sorry

Skeptical... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16152873)

Two points:

1) Never trust anything you read in New Scientist.

2) Consider the following, discovered on Google:
In section 5.4, for the SNe that were thrown out, are you sure that all of them had enough data to accurately measure the peak? I was just looking at SNLS-03D3bb, and there are only 3 or 4 points in in g-band (restframe B), and they are all >~ 20 days after maximum light. So the B-band measurement here is a total extrapolation. Also, in the fits Julien gave me I think it was 0.4 mag off, not 0.7. Anyway I think 03D3bb should be thrown out because there is not enough data, not because it is peculiar (although we can mention that). long mails about that. No clear outcome. To summarize. The 2 SNe Ia outliers and spectro. peculiar are very badly fitted (i.e. the sampling of the lightcurves is sufficient to blow up the chi2). Cutting on the chi2 of the fit is worrying. the 2 Ia* may be IC's. We'll rephrase this section

My emphasis added.

Re:Skeptical... (1)

Andy_Howell (202757) | more than 7 years ago | (#16153836)

1) The slashdot title, and a line in the New Scientist article are misleading. This does not cast doubt on SNe Ia as standard candles. It is an odd supernova, but we think we can screen these out -- we just have to be careful.

2) That email refers to observations in the B filter, which are used for cosmology. Indeed there is not enough data from that g filter (which transforms to B) near peak to constrain this supernova, so it was thrown out from the cosmology partially because the B peak magnitude is a complete extrapolation. For the Nature paper we used observations in the V filter, (transformed from the r filter) which is actually measured near peak. All of this is covered in the Nature paper. Also, when that email was written, not all of the data had been reduced. Be careful in taking emails out of context -- it is easy to get the wrong idea.

Re: Supernova casts doubt on "Standard Candle" (1)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152942)

Since when do these guys [msn.com] know anything about astrophysics?

They can't be too non-standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16152969)

Take, for instance, cosmology: the supernova-based estimates of the expansion history of the universe agree with the entirely independent cosmic background radiation-based estimates. Unless you want to chalk that agreement up to an amazing coincidence, supernova standard candles can't be too far off from the present calibration curve. That being said, it is a tricky business, and there is certainly room for uncertainty; it's just not likely to be "cast everything we know about distances and ages in the universe into doubt" uncertainty.

Electric Nova. (0)

IMarvinTPA (104941) | more than 7 years ago | (#16152983)

Supernova don't get most of their energy from the sun itself. It gets the energy from the entire circuit it is a part of. Thus, this star could in fact have been very small, but been in a very large circuit and been this bright.
Check these out:
http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2005/arch05/0510 11elec-nova.htm [thunderbolts.info]
http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2006/arch06/0604 12supernova.htm [thunderbolts.info]
http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2005/arch05/0509 30tychostar.htm [thunderbolts.info]

IMarv

Current theories on the identity of the Supernova (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16153345)

Speculation has led many to believe that Supernova [wikipedia.org] is either Booster Gold [wikipedia.org] or Ambush Bug [wikipedia.org] . Others speculate him to be a resurrected Superboy [wikipedia.org] , but there is no overriding evidence to support any of these theories other than Supernova possibly being male, having an "attitude" and knowing the location of Batman's Batcave.

uh oh (1)

Wizzerd911 (1003980) | more than 7 years ago | (#16154129)

well now I guess we have one more problem to worry about: supernova obeisity. Let's strap Richard Simmons and that tae bo guy to a rocket and send them on over to get it back down to normal, exceptable size.

Come on people. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16154673)

It's not like this is Rocket science or brain surgery.
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