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Pillars of Creation Destroyed

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the eat-your-heart-out-Hercules dept.

Space 364

anthemaniac writes with news about the Pillars of Creation, an iconic structure in the Eagle Nebula some 7,000 light-years distant. The Hubble Space Telescope's image of this structure is one of the most widely recognized astronomy images ever captured. Now a new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope suggests that the pillars probably toppled 6,000 years ago. From the article: "Astronomers think [a] supernova's shock wave knocked the pillars down about 6,000 years ago. But because light from that region of the sky takes 7,000 years to reach us, the majestic pillars will appear intact to observers on Earth for another 1,000 years or so.'"

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Ah ha! (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 7 years ago | (#17533656)


Astronomers think [a] supernova's shock wave knocked the pillars down about 6,000 years ago.

Just as the the Earth was being created!

Re:Ah ha! (2, Funny)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 7 years ago | (#17533688)

for the MtG geeks out there (I haven't played in years, but still) =]

Pillars of Creation
Artifact
Casting Cost: 3
1T: Sacrifice Pillars of Creation, put one Earth Token into play. Treat Earth Token as a land which produces either W, R, B, Bk, or G

Re:Ah ha! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17533948)

i just love faggots who have to beat their message into others. no wonder most people ignore atheists... your PR is done by assholes.

Re:Ah ha! (0, Offtopic)

TomHandy (578620) | more than 7 years ago | (#17533980)

faggots? And now I know why most people ignore bigots. They're PR is also done by assholes.

Re:Ah ha! (0, Offtopic)

IdleTime (561841) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534024)

i just love faggots who have to beat their message into others. no wonder most people ignore atheists... your PR is done by assholes.
If you love faggots, come around. I have a few friends who would fuck you in the ass. Besides, atheism is not an organization and I'm sure my friends will convince you about that after a few minutes...

Re:Ah ha! (-1, Offtopic)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534080)

Besides, atheism is not an organization

Sure it is... http://www.atheists.org/ [atheists.org]

Re:Ah ha! (0, Offtopic)

redcane (604255) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534342)

Well played sir. Of course that is *an* athiest organisation, just like I am *a* god (but not *the* god).

Re:Ah ha! (1)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534492)

Atheism operates with many of the same behaviors as a religion. It has a set of unproveable presuppositions that its followers take by faith, its followers evangelize, there are particular behaviors and patterns (Darwin fish and the FSM come to mind), there are "saints" (I'm lazy tonight... so I'll hit up Darwin again), their are people put up on high who are unquestionable (scientists, however speculative their research may be recieve this luxury today).

Note that atheism and true agnosticism are completely different. An athiest makes a statement. There is "no god/God/higher power outside of nature". An true agnostic would simply admit that they can't ever really know at all.

Re:Ah ha! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17534596)

Yes, atheism is a religion in exactly the same way that not collecting stamps is a hobby.

Re:Ah ha! (3, Funny)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 7 years ago | (#17535000)

Thanks for the new sig!

Re:Ah ha! (3, Insightful)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534684)

> It has a set of unproveable presuppositions that its followers take by faith

Name exactly ONE article of faith of atheism. Or is not believing that there is an invisible rhinoceros in my living room an "article of faith"?

Re:Ah ha! (2, Interesting)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534744)

Name exactly ONE article of faith of atheism.

Here's a few straight from atheists.org

Atheism is a doctrine that states
1) that nothing exists but natural phenomena (matter),
2) that thought is a property or function of matter,
3) and that death irreversibly and totally terminates individual organic units.

These are philosophical statements not scientific ones. They are not proven philosophically or scientifically.

Re:Ah ha! (1)

shlashdot (689477) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534998)

Nothing is ever proven philosophically nor scientifically. Things either occur or they don't. Some things are more likely to occur than others. Science is helpful in distinguishing those. You sending me a message after your death is unlikely to occur.

Re:Ah ha! (2, Insightful)

UncleFluffy (164860) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534978)

Name exactly ONE article of faith of atheism. Or is not believing that there is an invisible rhinoceros in my living room an "article of faith"?

Well, strictly speaking, everything after "Cogito, ergo sum" is an article of faith (c.f. "Brain in a Vat"). There actually is a neon green rhinoceros in your living room, it's just that you are hallucinating that it isn't there.

Re:Ah ha! (1)

Babillon (928171) | more than 7 years ago | (#17535038)

It's simply that you cannot prove that their isn't. It's really an arguement niether side can win, so they both have to go on faith. Religious folk have faith that something exists, whereas athiests have faith that nothing exists. And both will fight you tooth and nail to prove it.

Non-commital agnosticism, for the win.

Re:Ah ha! (2, Insightful)

DeadChobi (740395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534892)

HEY! We Pastafarians resent your comment that FSM is not a real religion. Just where in your book does it exactly dictate what God looks like? Perhaps he's just a big lovely ball of noodles, meat, and sauce in the sky. From my point of view it certainly looks like we were created in His image, with noodlyness abound. Our blood flows red as the Sauce, as well. Not only that, clearly He thinks more of us that he should stock our Heaven with beer volcanoes and strippers as far as the eye can see. Does your God do that?

Re:Ah ha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17534144)


i just love faggots who have to beat their message into others.
Like the "faggot" christians who witness to strangers? Like the Crusades? Fuck you, fuck religion, fuck jesus, fuck mary's rotted cunt.

Re:Ah ha! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17534300)

DECALOGUE, n. A series of commandments, ten in number --just enough to permit an intelligent selection for observance, but not enough to embarrass the choice. Following is the revised edition of the Decalogue, calculated for this meridian.

  • Thou shalt no God but me adore:
    'Twere too expensive to have more.
  • No images nor idols make For Robert Ingersoll to break.
  • Take not God's name in vain;
    select A time when it will have effect.
  • Work not on Sabbath days at all,
    But go to see the teams play ball.
  • Honor thy parents.
    That creates For life insurance lower rates.
  • Kill not, abet not those who kill;
    Thou shalt not pay thy butcher's bill.
  • Kiss not thy neighbor's wife,
    unless Thine own thy neighbor doth caress
  • Don't steal; thou'lt never thus compete Successfully in business.
    Cheat.
  • Bear not false witness --that is low
    -- But "hear 'tis rumored so and so."
  • Cover thou naught that thou hast not
    By hook or crook, or somehow, got.

Re:Ah ha! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17534592)

I just love faggots, too! They give GREAT blow jobs. Want to suck MY dick, since we're both faggot lovers??!

Re:Ah ha! (4, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534136)

They weren't destroyed, just modded down. Set your telescopes to view -1.

Re:Ah ha! (2, Funny)

dc29A (636871) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534444)

You mean they got plutoed? [bbc.co.uk] ;)

Re:Ah ha! (5, Informative)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534254)

The earth is actually older than 6,000 years.

*please mod informative, please mod informative*

Re:Ah ha! (1, Insightful)

grub (11606) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534462)

I wish there were a "well duh" mod. :)

Bummer (3, Funny)

CaptainNerdCave (982411) | more than 7 years ago | (#17533684)

that's it, pack up the space program, nothing left to see out there

What are they made of? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17533698)

Those are some stunning photographs! But as somebody with virtually no astronomy background, what are those "pillars" made of? The article says "gas and dust", but that seems pretty vague. How large to astronomers think that this particulate matter is? Does it range in size from grains of sand up to chunks as large as earth, and beyond?

Re:What are they made of? (3, Informative)

pln2bz (449850) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534642)

It's actually made of plasma in the glow discharge state. That's the same state of plasma that you see within a neon sign. Plasma can also exist in the arc state, which is like an arc welder (very bright) and in a dark state, which you cannot see (like the electricity that flows through your lamp cord; notice the cord does not brighten). It's resistivity changes throughout these modes depending upon the current density. Plasma is the fourth more common state of matter next to gas, solid and liquid. Thing is, 99%+ of the universe's matter is in the plasma state, which makes it a pretty big deal to understand it. You'd think, in fact, that our theories about how the universe operated would be based upon how plasma acts to a great extent, but astrophysicists have oddly convinced themselves that accurately modeling the properties of plasma is not all that important to understanding the universe.

Since astrophysicists like to incorrectly model plasma as a *fluid* (magnetohydrodynamics), they tend to just vaguely call it "gas and dust" even though it is by definition filled with charged particles like ions and electrons. As you may know, ions and electrons can carry electricity, which makes plasma a very special type of matter. The electricity that flows through plasma can affect its shape, and vice-versa. So, its electrical and mechanical energies are interdependent, and this makes it very complicated. If you've ever seen a novelty plasma globe at Spencer's in the mall, the first thing that probably came to your mind was not ... hey, it's fluid! Unfortunately, for the past several decades, astrophysicists have been refusing to admit that plasma can transfer electricity and it's led to all sorts of weird results within astronomy like black holes, neutron stars, dark matter, dark energy, the Big Bang Theory, etc.

This whole article is actually complete bullshit because contrary to what it states, supernovae are likely electrical phenomenon as well. We've imaged many remnants of supernovae (like 1987A) that are bipolar symmetric like an hourglass. This isn't anything like what astrophysicists told us that they should be -- a spherical shell of expanding gas. In fact, it corresponds better to something called Birkeland Currents, which is a plasma physics term that astrophysicists aren't very familiar with. The supernova can become extremely energetic because it is the confluence point for energy arriving from foreign energy sources in the same way that energy created at your power plant ends up being used at your house.

Of course, this isn't the *standard* view and I'm sure that there are people who would consider me to be heretical, or at least misleading you. But so long as the filaments within a novelty plasma globe do not appear to you to act like the water in a similarly shaped fishbowl, then you should not buy much into the rest of astronomy either because this single assumption is so devastating to all of the calculations that are done for the universe that the end result is pretty much garbage. We know enough about space to get probes out to the planets, but that's pretty much it these days. Very few of the pretty pictures we see through our amazing telescopes were actually expected by the theories that we've been pursuing for the past few decades. The scientists spend a bunch of time, in fact, trying to figure out ways to create those pictures *without* electricity because it's considered more appropriate for some strange reason to invent mysterious matters than to assume that electricity can flow over plasma in space (which we can do in the laboratory). You'd never know any of this from the public relations releases though for space articles because people tend to believe whatever it is they are told when it comes to space stuff and there are no "investigative journalists" asking the tough questions in the space industry.

We live in a very strange world. Our reality is basically what we tell ourselves that it is and will continue to be so until a day when nature has had enough and disagrees.

If you want to learn more, I highly recommend Don Scott's new book, "The Electric Sky", or just go to www.thunderbolts.info. It's actually better if you have no Big Bang experience going into this material. But I wouldn't actually talk to anybody about what you learn because people can become quite hostile about electricity over plasma. Weird, huh?

Who would have guessed that such a simple question had such a strange, complicated answer ...

Puts things into perspective (3, Interesting)

EzraSj (993720) | more than 7 years ago | (#17533716)

I wonder if any of us (that is, humans) will be around to see the destruction, or if anyone alive then will ever know what they looked like today?

Re:Puts things into perspective (2, Informative)

grub (11606) | more than 7 years ago | (#17533892)


I wonder if [...] anyone alive then will ever know what they looked like today?

Sure, they'll Google "pillars of creation" on their IPv1024-connected computers.

v1024? (1)

Mateorabi (108522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534654)

Um, isn't the IP version field only 4 bits?

If you lived in the Eagle Nebula (5, Funny)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 7 years ago | (#17533724)

There was a gimmicky sign left by the pillars of creation:

If you lived in the Eagle Nebula, you'd be destroyed by now.

Bad use of "already" (4, Insightful)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#17533740)

Really, when will people learn not to use the past tense for events outside of our past light cone!
The pillars have already been destroyed by the shockwave
The guy's modeled the pillars and claims that they were destroyed 6000 years ago, 7000 light years away. But if this is the case, then their destruction is outside of our past light cone. So someone else here and now, moving past as at high velocity, using English in the same way, could claim that this event is actually in their future. It doesn't mean that they could visit the destruction because they're outside of any possible future lightcone of any observer starting from here now. Events outside of our light cones are neither past nor future, and you certainly can't go bandying around the word 'already' when you talk about them.

Re:Bad use of "already" (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17533832)

Events outside of our light cones are neither past nor future, and you certainly can't go bandying around the word 'already' when you talk about them.

You have clearly never watch a time-travel movie, not even a bad time-travel movie.

Re:Bad use of "already" (2, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#17533856)

No, already is perfectly correct. It has happened. If you were to instantaneously move to the pillars of creation, they would not be there. So the only correct tense is past.

Re:Bad use of "already" (4, Informative)

Jerf (17166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17533872)

There is no such thing as "instantaneously".

Re:Bad use of "already" (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534104)

There is no such thing as "instantaneously".

Sure there is. It just doesn't mean what you think it means.

"Happening in a time span lower than the response rate of the observer." If I move my mouse, the cursor moves "instantaneously", even though there's a delay significantly higher than c's round trip through mouse, cable, USB bus, CPU, AGP, GPU, VGA cable, monitor control, eyes.

Re:Bad use of "already" (-1, Troll)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534214)

You don't know much physics, do you?

Go read Einstein's paper on Special Relativity. It's quite short and easy to understand. There's basically no math whatsoever in it. It should drive the point home.

Re:Bad use of "already" (2, Insightful)

dolphino (166844) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534428)

This is the strangest post i have seen yet - is it a troll? Anyhoo.

The very paper you refer clearly states that time not a constant. This is why his ideas were so interesting... it opened the door to 'instantaneous' as quite an ordinary thing. It's quite short and easy to understand (the second time you read it).

The above poster is also correct in the frame of quantum mechanics: in the quantum world, the ONLY constant is the observer. His entire post was prologued with 'Happening in a time span lower than the response rate of the observer.'

I would recommend imagining the people you encounter as much smarter than you may think. It may be a blow to your ego for a while, but you will find a massive source of information and ideas.

Nobody knows much physics, btw. You would be lying if you claimed to know much beyond newtonian physics.

Eric

Re:Bad use of "already" (1)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534540)

Are you sure you knew which post I was replying to?

Re:Bad use of "already" (1)

dolphino (166844) | more than 7 years ago | (#17535046)

There is no such thing as "instantaneously".

Sure there is. It just doesn't mean what you think it means.

"Happening in a time span lower than the response rate of the observer." If I move my mouse, the cursor moves "instantaneously", even though there's a delay significantly higher than c's round trip through mouse, cable, USB bus, CPU, AGP, GPU, VGA cable, monitor control, eyes.
The post your response was hanging off of - i apologize if this was in error.

Eric

Re:Bad use of "already" (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534696)

*thbbtttpt*

OK, in the context we're talking about, there's no such thing as "instantaneous". Unless you're some kind of living galaxy that has response times measured in trillions of years.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that that describes nobody reading this.

Again I say *thbbtttpt*. (That's a raspberry.)

Re:Bad use of "already" (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534720)

True, but there's no such thing as "smooth surface" or "vacuum" either. Nonetheless they are important in physics.

Re:Bad use of "already" (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534844)

There is no such thing as "instantaneously".
How about quantum entanglement?
 

Re:Bad use of "already" (2, Insightful)

Jerf (17166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534910)

How about [random physics word]?

You can't send any information "along" a quantum entanglement. How do you propose to send a timing signal along a channel that can carry no information? How do you propose to define "instantaneous" when you can't even provide a timing signal that matches your definition?

Re:Bad use of "already" (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17533908)

It is reasonable to set the date of the "collapse" as the day the light can be expected to reach Earth minus today; that's accurate enough and reasonably well defined.

You are, of course, technically correct. "The best kind of correct", as 1.0 would say.

Re:Bad use of "already" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17533968)

I like the way you describe this; however, the time axis of a light cone is a single dimension: thus, any possible event, regardless if reachable from our light cone, will occur either before or after our position relative to our time dimension.

Like you mention, a relativistic traveler could have this event in his future, but it's already in our past.

Re:Bad use of "already" (3, Informative)

Trogre (513942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534012)

Sorry but that is a rather silly claim.

If the data is correct, then it already has happened. I realise that some poor 100-level physics/relativity courses try to push the idea that events outside the "light cone" (as you like to call it) haven't happened yet but that's baloney. The event has occurred and the pillars are destroyed, light cone or no light cone. We just haven't seen it yet.

They are ex-pillars.

They have ceased to be.

Re:Bad use of "already" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17534656)

So, Nebula are like parrots?

Re:Bad use of "already" (1)

c.r.o.c.o (123083) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534770)

Next thing you know, they'll find them alive and well in Bolton.

Proper Time Travel Grammar (5, Funny)

Peter Trepan (572016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534020)

They willan on-have collapsen.

Re:Bad use of "already" (5, Funny)

baldass_newbie (136609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534086)

Actually, this is a *ahem* perfect use of the pluperfect tense [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Bad use of "already" (1)

TeamSPAM (166583) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534610)

I was expecting this to be some sort of Douglas Adams [wikipedia.org] reference. Oh well. :(

Relativity of Simultaneity (2, Informative)

tylersoze (789256) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534306)

The above poster is correct, in physics parlance, observers will not agree on the temporal ordering of events separated by a space-like interval (outside the light cone, i.e. the two events can't affect each other because you'd have to travel faster than light to connect them), conversely, they will always agree on the temporal ordering ordering of events separated by a time-like interval (inside the light cone, slower than light). This why the concept of information being transmitted faster than light automatically introduces causality issues, because different observers will disagree of what caused what.

So someone zipping by the Earth at a good percentage of the speed of light away from the Eagle Nebula will say that the collapse hasn't happened yet, although presumably if we were both good scientists, we'd agree that the event exists in the space-time continuum and understand why we disagree. :) This is the key to resolution of the so-called "Twin Paradox" as well. As soon as one of the twins turns around his line of simultaneity changes, and what his idea of "right now" changes. The key is that there's never really any "paradox", observers will always agree once they go to "meet each other" at the same point in the same reference frame. The universe doesn't always play by our common sense notions, some concepts like what "right now" means for widely separated events, for instance, may not be meaningful or need to be reinterpreted.

Re:Relativity of Simultaneity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17534550)

While the physics is correct, the correction is unwarranted. Newspapers on Earth are written for people on Earth using Earth's frame-of-reference units, not for someone zipping by the Earth at a good percentage of the speed of light.

Re:Bad use of "already" (1)

nten (709128) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534340)

Your post, much like "Singularity Sky" makes me confused. For one, if the event is outside our light cone, how the heck do we know about it? Are we simply seeing part of a shock wave's effects that extrapolated would reach the pillars at a given point in space/time? Also, if the optical effects of the actual topple event are going to reach earth in 1000 years, doesn't it mean the event is in our future light cone? If so should we say "will topple?"

Re:Bad use of "already" (2, Informative)

tylersoze (789256) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534450)

Yeah they are extrapolating that the shock wave collapsed the pillars. Note the fact it takes the light a finite amount of time to reach us doesn't actually enter into it. We know how far away the nebula is, so once the light reaches us we know when the event "really" occurred. However, here's where it gets fun, to an observer moving at a good portion of that speed of light relative to us, the time and the distance he measures to the Eagle Nebula is *completely different*, but thanks to the magic of Relativity the speed of light is the same for everybody, so he calculates that a different amount of time it took the light to reach him and thus occurred a different point in time. His result is just as valid as ours.

I'd suggest the excellent "Geometry, Relativity, and the 4th Dimension" by Rudy Rucker. I read it as a kid, and it got me hooked on Relativity. He makes it really easy to visual all this stuff by drawing simple space-time diagrams. Also my old Physics professor, William G Harter, has a really good Relativity visualization program called RelativIt.

Re:Bad use of "already" (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534360)

If it hasn't been destroyed yet, then when has it been destroyed? If I were to fly toward it in a spaceship at light speed, the event would appear to happen 500 years earlier.

The simple fact is, it has already happened. It's just that the knowledge of the event hasn't reached us yet, other than the signs that it has will already be destroyed. (Gotta love those time-travel verb tenses.)

Re:Bad use of "already" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17534544)

If it hasn't been destroyed yet, then when has it been destroyed?

Shouldn't that be "then when will it have been destroyed"?

The simple fact is, it has already happened.

It has happened there. It hasn't happened yet here.

Re:Bad use of "already" (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534464)

It's all about the reference frame.

I hate relativity.

Re:Bad use of "already" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17534522)

So someone else here and now, moving past as at high velocity, using English in the same way, could claim that this event is actually in their future.

Right, but relative to our frame of reference it has already happened. That is, all of our observations will be consistent with it already having happened. There is only ambiguity if you have not established a frame of reference.

Re:Bad use of "already" (1)

JeanPaulBob (585149) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534638)

There are already so many comments I'm sure this won't be read, but I'll say it anyway:

Accepting your relativity analysis at face value, it does not mean that the article was wrong to use the word "already". That's correct, within our reference frame. At most it means your hypothetical observer would also be correct to say it "will" happen. In other words, we can say it already happened, we just can't claim that's correct in all reference frames.

My 2 cents. IAAPBIHSRTM. (I Am A Physicist But I Haven't Studied Relativity That Much)

Re:Bad use of "already" (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534764)

It has already happened from the pillars perspective but cannot be observed from Earth and thus from Earth's perspective appears that it has not already happened. A light cone is simply a sub-section of the expanding spherical boundry of an observable event starting from time T (ignoring gravitational bodies and the relative motion between observer and event).

In other words, I think we all understand the cat is dead even though we haven't opened the box to prove it.

Re:Bad use of "already" (1)

Ruberik (935611) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534924)

The pillars' perspective when? Presumably you mean "now, as defined in my reference frame" in which case yes, they have been destroyed. A traveller moving past us at high speed could say that "now, as defined in my reference frame, from the pillars' perspective, they're still intact."

He'd be correct too -- it isn't a matter of what things look like when you're moving fast, it's a matter of how things are. This fellow would say "well, I'm standing still, and those pillars are 6000 light years away; but the light from the explosion will take more than 6000 years to reach me, so it hasn't happened yet." Only he'd say it in some alien language, 'cause presumably he isn't human.

*As far as he's concerned, of course, he's standing still and we're whizzing past him.
**Because he's moving so fast in that direction, he doesn't see the distance as being 6000 light years; adjust the numbers appropriately, but the point still holds.

Re:Bad use of "already" (5, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534766)

So if I fart and you're 100 meters away, will you say that I haven't yet farted because it's outside of your smell cone?
 

Damn Taliban! (-1, Offtopic)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17533756)

They tore down the Buddhas of Bamyan, so we chased them out of Afghanistan, and where did they go?

Freaking Outer-Space!

And now they are tearing down the Pillars of Creation! Can't those guys just accept that other people have other ideas about religion and Creation?

Geezus!

Makes Me Curious (2, Insightful)

moore.dustin (942289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17533760)

What else are we looking at and taking images of that is actually nothing like it is in real time. This also boggles my mind with the fact that much of what we see of our universe is actually just nothing like it currently is since the light takes soooo long to get to us. Perhaps I am wrong with that assumption... maybe somebody knows better than I and can clue me in :)

Re:Makes Me Curious (1)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 7 years ago | (#17533888)

I guess one could ague that nothing you look at is in real time, considering the light still has to travel (however fast it may be.) But, compared to light, your brain's processing the images is what really eats ups the time between 'real time' and 'perception's time.'

Re:Makes Me Curious (3, Insightful)

Jerf (17166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17533924)

What else are we looking at and taking images of that is actually nothing like it is in real time.
Uh, how about, everything ? Absolutely, positively, everything?

Even on Planet Earth light speed delays can be noticible (it is the bulk of a ping time that goes any significant distance, a highly impressive achievement), but once you leave Earth, everything has a significant light speed delay. The moon is just over a light-second away and the sun roughly eight and a half light minutes. (The exact distance varies over the course of the year.)

Re:Makes Me Curious (3, Interesting)

Black Copter Control (464012) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534466)

Pretty much anything.

The farther away anything is, the more it is going to differ from what we're seeing now.

6000 light years doesn't even make it halfway to the galaxy core ... much less to nearby galaxies (2million light years only gets us to Andromeda -- the nearest major galaxy). For all we know, it was imploded by some master race 1 million years ago, and the creatures who get to watch that explosion will be digging up our fossils and wondering what we had to do with the mass extinction we're in the middle of.

It takes us up to 20 minutes to figure out if a mars probe went 'poof' during it's last maneuver.
Voyager is about 10 light-hours out.
The North Star (one of the brightest stars in the sky until a few years ago), is over 400 light years out.

Basically, just about nothing is close to us in human terms (under relativistic rules). In fact, The Pillars of Creation are about as close as things can get.

-- But also remember that as things get closer, we can see more detail so Jupiter at 4 light hours has way more detail than any thing extrasolar. The stuff in andromeda can only be resolved to a resolution of a few light years.

Ow my head... (1)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 7 years ago | (#17533772)

Astronomy messes with my head almost as much as time travel...

So, if we have detected a supernova that exploded 6,000-9,000 years ago, and a picture of the Pillars 7,000 years ago, wouldn't that mean that the supernova is some place between us and the pillars, ~1,000-2,000 lightyears closer to the pillars than the median of us and the pillars? IANAA so could someone correct me if I'm wrong.

Re:Ow my head... (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534008)

Astronomy messes with my head almost as much as time travel...

Astronomy IS time travel....well time observation to be more correct. What you are looking at happened a long time ago. How long ago depends on how far away you look. What you see is a collage of what once was, that "once" varying with distance. This is always true. It just becomes noticable and important when (and you'll pardon the pun) the distances become astronomical. I was always filled with a sense of awe at that one fact more than just about any other.

Re:Ow my head... (1)

FroBugg (24957) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534286)

Not quite. According to the article, the actual supernova ocurred 6-9ka ago. Another line suggests that it might have been observed on Earth 1-2ka ago.

The interesting thing isn't the relativistic factors, it's the simple fact that a single supernova can continue to have a significant effect over the course of a thousand years.

Timings and positions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17533792)

So the assumption is that the supernova occurred 5 or 6000 light years away from Earth, 7 or 8000 years ago? Striking the nebula 6000 years ago, which we'll notice in another 1000 years... you could just draw a part of a sphere to plot the candidates.

I've no idea where they get the (up to) 9000 years ago angle though.

Re:Timings and positions... (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534038)

Google "standard candle" with the quotes.

The first link I got was Wikipedia which is as good a starting place as any.

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

I was so intrigued by what I didn't know I did an Astronomy Masters with no intention of changing career (ie. a recreational degree).

topple (4, Funny)

Feyr (449684) | more than 7 years ago | (#17533834)

i find the idea that anything in space can "topple" or "fall down" highly amusing

some of these reporters need to check their gravity :)

Re:topple (1)

ahadsell (248479) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534614)

What kind of tip do you need to leave when you check your gravity?

Sorry about that! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17533984)

I farted.

Cool... hope it didn't cost too much (-1, Troll)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534114)

I like astronomy as much as the next guy who thinks it's neat and all... but how much taxpayer money was spent on this and what's the value. I know the initial space program produced all sorts of wonderful things we use today... is this type of work doing the same thing? Is the science needed to get these pictures usable in a practical way?

If not... let's stop wasting money on pretty pictures of long gone space stuff and try to figure out how to use clean renewable energy here.

Re:Cool... hope it didn't cost too much (2, Insightful)

the phantom (107624) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534184)

Less than 1% of every US tax dollar goes to space. Do you really think that, if that money were not going to space, it would go to the programs that you want it to go to? Do you not think that the exploration of our universe is a noble cause, worthy of public funding? Even if for no other reason than no other oranization has the money or motivation to fund that kind of exploration? It seems a rather trivial cost to me...

Re:Cool... hope it didn't cost too much (-1, Flamebait)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534284)

Less than 1% of every US tax dollar goes to space.

NASA's budget is 16.8 billion (source [google.com] )

Do you really think that, if that money were not going to space, it would go to the programs that you want it to go to?

Well if the government can create a budget for NASA I'm sure they can create a budget for something else. Yeah they're wasteful... so let's pick a useful program that should have some money.

Do you not think that the exploration of our universe is a noble cause, worthy of public funding?

Noble? Feeding starving people is noble. Distributing basic medicines and AIDS vaccines in Africa is noble. Building wells and roads and other infrastructure in poorer nations to help them become self sustaining is noble. Developing technologies that eliminate or radically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels is noble. Taking pictures and measuring waves from long dead space objects... not so much.

It seems like a massive waste of money. I get satellites. I get trips and research and projects that produce secondary benefits. I'm just asking what's the real value here?

Re:Cool... hope it didn't cost too much (4, Insightful)

redcane (604255) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534402)

The value is in knowing. The more we know about the universe, the more we can make use of it. Especially when it comes to the point that we *need* to get off this rock. At that point all the AIDS vaccines, wells and roads all over the world become worth squat. Of course I don't think it will happen in our lifetime, and you can certainly debate if it will happen. But I'm sure that more primitive societys saw mucking around with plant extracts as pointless when it was more useful to gather food for the tribe. Of course some of those plant extracts are now medicines.

Re:Cool... hope it didn't cost too much (0)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534560)

The more we know about the universe, the more we can make use of it. Especially when it comes to the point that we *need* to get off this rock.

How is knowing about a something that doesn't exist any longer going to help us get off of the planet? How is seeing places that we cannot physically even come close to reaching actually helping?

But I'm sure that more primitive societys saw mucking around with plant extracts as pointless when it was more useful to gather food for the tribe. Of course some of those plant extracts are now medicines.

I'm not a doctor, but I'm trying to think of common modern medicines that can trace their existence back to primitive peoples mucking around with plants. Maybe ginsing?

Re:Cool... hope it didn't cost too much (1)

shma (863063) | more than 7 years ago | (#17535006)

Especially when it comes to the point that we *need* to get off this rock. At that point all the AIDS vaccines, wells and roads all over the world become worth squat.

I would imagine people with AIDS would respectfully disagree with you.

Re:Cool... hope it didn't cost too much (1)

Tim_UWA (1015591) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534404)

NASA's budget is 16.8 billion

Isn't the total budget for the US around 2 trillion dollars (from gpoaccess.gov which I got from the source you provided)? And doesn't that make 16.8 billion around 0.8% ?

Re:Cool... hope it didn't cost too much (0, Flamebait)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534590)

Yes. Which is less than 1%. I wasn't trying to make a point about incorrect math... I was just stating exactly how much was being spent on taking pictures of stuff that no longer exists and that we have no real practical way of ever getting to and probably will never have any real impact on anyone on this planet ever.

Re:Cool... hope it didn't cost too much (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17534412)

I think Drake's Equation needs a new term in it's statement in order to explain Fermi's Paradox. We'll call it "1-f_w" where f_w is "the fraction of planets inhabited by whiny bitches who kill all the space programs because the money isn't being spent the way they wanted." From experience, f_w is 1, causing Drake's Equation to equal 0, explaining Fermi's Paradox: we've never picked up another civilization because all the other civilizations are planetbound due to whiners. Likewise, they'll never meet us either.

Re:Cool... hope it didn't cost too much (4, Insightful)

wrook (134116) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534500)

Basic research often has no short term value that we can see. A hundred years ago a couple of guys tried to measure our speed through the "ether". They found that there was no ether. This lead to the idea that light must travel at the same speed no matter what reference frame you're in. This (and a few other things) lead to the ideas of quantum physics. This ultimately lead to several inventions already with many more on the way.

But a hundred years ago, did anyone see the point in measuring our speed through the ether (which pretty much everyone accepted had to exist)? What would be the point? Just a waste of money.

Astronomical measurements are used to test basic theories of physics. The basic theories of physics are then used to create new and wonderful things. These things save lives and make us more comfortable. Just because we don't know what we'll end up using the information for doesn't mean we should stop searching for it.

Re:Cool... hope it didn't cost too much (1)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534620)

Good answer... but I'm shocked to hear that there is no ether... next you're going to tell me Pluto is not a planet.

Re:Cool... hope it didn't cost too much (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534800)

> next you're going to tell me Pluto is not a planet.

The names some people choose or don't choose to give chunks of matter in orbit around a star is of little importance to real science.

Re:Cool... hope it didn't cost too much (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17534368)

HEY! Stop wasting time posting messages on the internet and get back to work on your urgent energy research!

Re:Cool... hope it didn't cost too much (2, Insightful)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534436)

I'm sure you'll agree that pure physics research has produced led to some pretty useful stuff - electromagnetism and quantum mechanics are behind most of the cool toys geeks love. Just as quantum mecahnics wasn't initially developed with the aim of producing transistors, current theories being developed and tested have no specific technological aim in mind. But it's a certainty that with greater understanding of our universe will come a greater ability to manipulate it. Every advance in physics has brought with it technological advances and I fully expect any future advances will bring further technological advances. Certainly some scientists and engineers need to be working on clean renewable energy tech (and they are), but some need to be working on the tools that those scientists and engineers use - physical theories, mathematical techniques; astronomy is part of that making the science that makes the technology possible.

Re:Cool... hope it didn't cost too much (1)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534516)

Good answer. I'll vote for an extension to NASA's budget :)

Re:Cool... hope it didn't cost too much (1)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534534)

I was not actually aware quantum mechanics were involved in transistors. Doesn't that technically make every computer a quantum computer?

Re:Cool... hope it didn't cost too much (1)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534966)

Transistor-based computers, while they rely on quantum effects for their operation, perform calculations using large numbers of quanta (electrons) on a large (in quantum terms) scale. When we look at sufficiently large numbers of quanta on a large enough scale, we analyse the bulk properties as electricity. It's at that larger scale that computation happens in a microchip - they are electrical devices, with many electrons representing each bit. The term 'quantum computer' refers specifically to computers which perform the actual computation at the scale of individual quanta.

Re:Cool... hope it didn't cost too much (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534788)

Ambulances use GPS-based navigation systems now to save lives faster by improving dispatch efficiency. GPS has to deal with relativistic effects or it's off in a big way. We wouldn't know about these effects unless we had folks doing this silly science stuff, sometimes on the taxpayer dime.

Stop wasting money on religion! (2, Insightful)

SimHacker (180785) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534882)

Physics and Astronomy help us understand the true nature of God (and she's not a vindicitive gay hating abortion clinic bombing fat old white bearded man, FYI). So why not spend at least as much money on Physics and Astronomy to understand the universe, instead of giving money to preachers, who just lie to you, then spend it on crystal meth, blow jobs from gay hustlers, political favors, molesting little kids, and paying off lawsuits for molesting little kids.

-Don

Cake. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17534312)

This article takes the cake! This has to be the oldest story I've seen posted on Slashdot!

Re:Cake. (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534678)

This has to be the oldest story I've seen posted on Slashdot!

Just wait 1000 years and you'll see the dup!

Can someone smarter than me... (2)

AsnFkr (545033) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534864)

.....explain how they can determine something like this if light from that event hasn't even reached us yet? Like, say who now? I assume it just an educated guess based on other activity in the area, but what exactly is it that they look at for clues like this?

Babylon 5 cause... (2, Insightful)

aapold (753705) | more than 7 years ago | (#17534954)

They were obviously destroyed during the Shadow War, as documented [amigager.de] on Babylon 5 episode Into the Fire [midwinter.com] ...

COOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17534986)

So this is kind of an astronomical weather forecast;
"This millennium, a beautiful view of the nebulae, but that's changing next millennium with a much needed nova-storm, showering the region with high energy particles, following clear space for awhile after." :)
God I wish I could live forever, I want to see this kind of thing.
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