Christmas gamma-ray burst debated
This is one model, depicted in an artist's impression, of a mysterious gamma-ray burst observed last Christmas.
November 30th, 2011
06:18 PM ET

Christmas gamma-ray burst debated

Last Christmas, researchers got a present that wasn't so neatly wrapped: an unusual gamma-ray burst.

This week in the journal Nature, two groups of scientists offer differing explanations for the strange observations about this gamma-ray burst, detected on December 25, 2010. It was discovered by the Burst Alert Telescope on NASA's Swift satellite.

Gamma-ray bursts are the most luminous explosions in the universe, NASA says. In general, scientists observe one or two gamma-ray bursts every week, Christina Thöne of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, Spain, said in an e-mail. They are generally connected to some kind of massive stellar death, she said. One established explanation for them is the collapse of a massive star. The other is the merger of two compact objects, such as neutron stars.

"Every few years, we get something really puzzling, that forces us (and a lot of theorists in the field) to rethink our models on gamma-ray bursts," she said. It's unusual that this particular gamma-ray burst lasted 28 minutes.

One study, led by Sergio Campana at the INAF – Osservatorio astronomico di Brera in Merate, Italy, suggests it happened because a comet-like object crashed onto a neutron star, resulting in an explosion. A neutron star is the crushed core observed after a star much more massive than our sun explodes. Debris fell on the neutron star, scientists say, and material from the comet formed a disk around the neutron star.

"We envisaged a brand-new mechanism able to explain all the observations," Campana said in an e-mail. "This can help (shed) light on the presence of lonely asteroids in the galaxy, and/or on the formations of planets and asteroids around millisecond radio pulsars."

Campana's research says the explosion occurred in our own Milky Way galaxy, about 100,000 light years away. But the other theory, put forth by Thöne and colleagues, suggests that it happened in a different galaxy, 5.5 billion light years away.

A supernova is at the heart of the explanation that Thöne's group offers. They say a neutron star was orbiting a normal star, which grew to become a red giant. The bigger star basically swallowed the smaller star, and the outer layers of gas from the red giant surrounded them both. After about 18 months, they merged to become a black hole with jets of particles traveling at nearly the speed of light, which produce gamma rays. A weak supernova ensued.

"We hope that further observations of the host galaxy candidate (or whatever it is!) can shed more light on the nature of this very weird event," she said.

Neither of these models for gamma-ray bursts has ever been observed before, said Chryssa Kouveliotou, a NASA astrophysicist in Thöne's group. More evidence is needed to favor one of these hypotheses over the other.

"I’m very excited because this is really something different," Kouveliotou said.

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Filed under: In Space
soundoff (330 Responses)
  1. B.E.

    I am constantly amazed that some people – from both sides of the fence – believe science and faith cannot co-exist. I was raised in a very religious, Christian home that pushed and supported me in education. Science was one of my favorite subjects and I earned good grades. I can't stand closed-minded 'religious' people who turn their backs on science AND I deplore closed-minded people who turn their nose up at anything to do with faith. Believe what you want (or don't believe) but all I ask is that people concede possibilities. None of us know it all. Not even close.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • TAK

      Then why not concede that a plump elf in a red suit flies around the world one night every december? You don't believe that do you? Yet you want me to concede that a far more ridiculous story about an invisible man that lives in the sky is true just because you believe silly stories handed down from the bronze age?

      December 27, 2011 at 9:36 am |
  2. AllYourBase

    "This can help (shed) light on the presence of lonely asteroids in the galaxy..' I really hope so. Thinking about how lonely those asteroids must be out there in alone...just makes me want to cry :*( Poor asteroids!!! Help them!!

    December 6, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  3. dave R

    From Wikipedia..."The English word theory was derived from a technical term in Ancient Greek philosophy. The word theoria, θεωρία, meant "a looking at, viewing, beholding", and referring to contemplation or speculation, as opposed to action" IT ISN'T EXCLUSIVE TO SCIENTIFIC THEORY! YOU are the ignorant and narrow minded one!

    December 1, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Kevin

      From the NAS via Scientific American – According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a scientific theory is "a Well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate Facts, laws, inferences, and Tested hypotheses."

      No amount of validation changes a theory into a law, which is a descriptive generalization about nature. So when scientists talk about the theory of evolution–or the atomic theory or the theory of relativity, for that matter–they are Not expressing reservations about its truth.

      In addition to the theory of evolution, meaning the idea of descent with modification, one may also speak of the fact of evolution.
      The NAS defines a fact as "an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and for all practical purposes is accepted as 'true.'"
      The fossil record and abundant other evidence testify that organisms have evolved through time. Although no one observed those transformations, the indirect evidence is clear, unambiguous and compelling.

      December 3, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
      • Juniis Gallio

        > Although no one observed those transformations, the indirect evidence is clear, unambiguous and compelling.

        Point of information: evolution has been directly observed, though (so far) only in species that have a quick generational span. Perhaps the most famous case is the e coli colonies that developed the ability to digest citrate–see for more info.

        December 3, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • TAK

      Now listen carefully here, you might learn something today, Dave. "Theory" means explanation. Just because the unwashed masses think that "theory" and "hypothesis" are synonyms doesn't make it so. I cringe whenever some troglodyte says "well, it's just a theory". It reveals not only their lack of scientific understanding but their lack of language skills.

      December 27, 2011 at 9:48 am |
      • Einnnstein

        Great point TAK

        December 28, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  4. Tn Ken

    I always have a few of those right after I eat a bunch of beans.

    December 1, 2011 at 10:50 am |
  5. Patrick

    Ric H. – whoa dude. Like... you started off fine. But by the end, I was shelving you off with the other non-sensical babbling extremist nutballs with a bomb collection in his basement and an ideology to grind on his mom's lawnmower.

    Just............ wow. You need to try to get out more. Outside. Like... with people.

    December 1, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  6. helenecha

    That’s fine Christmas bursts are the attractive explosions in the universe, which scientists observe once or twice weekly.

    December 1, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  7. SgtSerge

    People really need to understand spirituality vs. religion,
    Spirituality – The state, quality, manner, or fact of being spiritual
    Religion – The service and worship of God or the supernatural

    So you can be spiritual and study science, but religion (no matter how some of you muddy the waters) cannot exist with science if religion is a matter of fact.

    The truth is spirituality is in every human, I believe religion is man using another man’s spirituality to control him/her.

    As for science..... I can't wait to see what the next 50 years brings, we are close to something big (dark matter / dark energy).

    December 1, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • Juniis Gallio

      >religion ... cannot exist with science if religion is a matter of fact.

      Go read Stephen Jay Gould. He not only disagrees, he actually gives reasons, instead of bald assertions. (And yes, I know, it's difficult if not impossible to give full-fledged reasoning on a blog response, but bald assertion just never kicked my trigger, as it were.)

      December 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  8. Patrick

    Smart people have insecurities too. Just look at the responses on this frickin' article!! omg............ but yeah... most are pretty funny.

    Keep it up!

    December 1, 2011 at 9:48 am |
  9. Zirbasjian

    It has been suggested that if we ever discover true AI, we will not at first recognize it for what it is. I believe that first contact with an alien species might unfold in a similar manner. I'm not saying that this burst was an extraterrestrial effort to contact us. I am suggesting that if it were (and we are not 'listening' to it in the right context) we might not recognize it for what it is.

    December 1, 2011 at 9:41 am |
    • mdmann

      Interesting idea, but for the less "charitable" among us, that could be a very frightening thought, indeed. Any civilization which had the power and knowledge to create a gamma ray burst lasting 28 minutes 100,000 to 5.5 billion years ago would be so much more advanced than us that it would be like us making contact to a colony of paramecia. I'd have to think that any civilization that advanced would not have any desire to try to contact us, and even if they did have such a desire, they could probably do it by other, more direct and obvious means.

      December 1, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  10. Peter K

    OK answer me this on the Big Bang theory. How can we get something SOOO big from nothing? Where did this ONE atom come from? Thank you!

    December 1, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • I'm The Best!

      It came from energy. E equals m c squared and all... And the pre-big bang nothingness probably had lots of energy all around and when enough was in one spot, then the big bang happened.

      You're welcome

      December 1, 2011 at 9:48 am |
    • Juniis Gallio

      Whoever told you that the pre-Big Bang state was "nothing" did you a tremendous disservice.

      As far as we can tell, the pre-Big Bang state was a _singularity_. Problem is, with any singularity, it is impossible to predict or understand what is going on inside it.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • mdmann

      What ONE atom are you referring to? Currently, scientists don't know how this all started. As scientific techniques become more sophisticated, they have been able to probe further back in time. This includes the advancement of telescopic techniques that allow us to peer deeper into the universe (and hence, further back in time) to see what the structure of the universe was earlier in its life, as well as Earth-bound techniques like the LHC which allow us to subject atoms to conditions that more closely resemble what it was believed to have been like in the early universe. Such studies allow scientists to refine their theories and develop new ones that improve agreement with observations. One thing you should realize is that matter is nothing more than a manifestation of energy. One theory that is out there is that our universe was created when two multidimensional "surfaces" in the higher "mutliverse" collided with each other. This released a tremendous amount of energy which appeared, on a local scale, to resemble an instantaneous burst of energy (a Big Bang). As this cooled, all the matter we see was formed. Where did these colliding surfaces come from? Scientists don't know. They may have always existed. They are trying to figure out ways to see "before" such an event. There has been some success with this, I believe.

      The key thing, though, is that religion can not profess to "know" anything about this either. Religion has no way of testing and verifying anything it says, which is what makes it weak in terms of describing physical, observable phenomena. It shouldn't be used for such.

      December 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • ZZ2011

      Steven Hawking theorizes that universe(s) can create themselves spontaneously from nothing – they don't even need time. We are not all theoretical physicists here, yet seem to think we can speculate on the big bang theory! If we can't understand everything now – saying a magical power created it seems foolish and childish. We should never lose our scientific curiosity! What if all the stories on holy books were misunderstood technologies of non-human beings? That would mean they are partially true! However, religious beliefs should never be used to stop scientific advancement of humans, that would be a waste of our potential. What if universe is God?

      December 1, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  11. PallyEwain

    the bible is the collection of gospels which means the good word they were all written by men. all you bible reading folk need to stop blasting on science and keep an open mind get your nose out of one book and read other books.

    December 1, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • GarZilla

      The "New Testament" is a collection of writings, some of which are "gospels". The "Old Testament" is not a collection of ANY "gospels".

      December 1, 2011 at 10:28 am |
      • TAK

        Superman has a red cape and Batman has a black cape. See, I can nitpick about fairy tales too.

        December 27, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  12. Jeanne

    Wow, I'm surprised at all the anger regarding belief in God. Why do people who believe in God have to be thought of as weak or not intelligent? Why is the assumption that science and religion have to be separate? I believe in the harmony of science and religion. Humankind has come a long way in our scientific researches, but we are still in our infancy really. How old is the universe, and how long have we been studying it? We'll never know all the answers, but so what? We'll continue to grow in our knowledge of everything. Science is fun for me. I enjoy learning new things. It doesn't contradict my belief system at all. And not all religion is contained in 1 Book.

    December 1, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • Praise God

      Very well put, Jeanne. I do appreciate people's emotions can run deep, but there's no reason for the insults to people's intelligence.

      December 1, 2011 at 9:30 am |
    • Sean

      If you do not understand the anger directed at such beliefs and the people in attempt to force others to live by those beliefs, you are as out of touch as a human being can get.

      A desperate attempt of a modern mind to rationalize Bronze Age fairy tales.

      December 1, 2011 at 9:31 am |
      • Jeanne

        Actually, it's not that I don't understand the anger, I said I'm surprised by it. No one likes to be attacked, for sure. But attacking and counter-attacking doesn't move anything forward. It's not rational discussion.
        And there's more than 1 religion out there. We don't all follow the same book.

        December 1, 2011 at 9:43 am |
      • Sean

        Replace anger with understand and you get the same response. Indeed there are more religions out there, but I fail to see your point. YOU mention “GOD” capital G. That madam is Christian. In essence specifying a single religion. I on the other hand made no such specification.

        As far as your “attacking and counter-attacking doesn't move anything forward”. This is also wrong. Be it in verbal debate or physical contest. Conflict is both natural and expected. If everyone agreed on everything all the time there would be no need for this conversation. I beg you one human to another..think about what you type before you type it.

        December 1, 2011 at 10:04 am |
      • Jeanne

        One of the principles of the Baha'i Faith is the harmony of science and religion. There are several religions that spell God with a capital g.
        "Conflict is both natural and expected" if humankind chooses not to advance. Will we get past wartime activities as a planet if we choose conflict over consultation? We don't have to agree on everything, however open-minded discussion without disparaging remarks goes a long way to furthering discussions. It's when things get inflamed that opposing sides leave the table. There is certainly a need for conflict, for without it, sports wouldn't be nearly as fun.

        December 1, 2011 at 10:43 am |
      • Sean

        “One of the principles of the Baha'i Faith is the harmony of science and religion.”
        Is this supposed to be proof that the concept is valid? I can point to many ideologies that teach this or that. Does not make them reasonable. If I’ve missed your point on this please correct me.

        “There are several religions that spell God with a capital g.”
        Christians are the only religion that consistently refers to their god’s name as being God. I would however be interested in these other religions. Please list them.

        "Conflict is both natural and expected" if humankind chooses not to advance. Will we get past wartime activities as a planet if we choose conflict over consultation?”
        Another logic fail. Are you suggesting (while typing on your computer having a conversation on the internet) that we have not advanced since the beginning of recorded history? A history filled to the brim with conflict and war?

        Again I direct you to my original statement: A desperate attempt of a modern mind to rationalize Bronze Age fairy tales.
        I applaud your utopian thinking, it shows a good heart. However just like the belief in the supernatural it is fantasy. You’ve also gotten off of the point of the conversation.

        December 1, 2011 at 11:18 am |
      • Jeanne

        "You’ve also gotten off of the point of the conversation." – Merely commenting on your comments. According to my original comment, our conversation is still on track.
        "“One of the principles of the Baha'i Faith is the harmony of science and religion.”
        Is this supposed to be proof that the concept is valid? I can point to many ideologies that teach this or that. Does not make them reasonable. If I’ve missed your point on this please correct me." I'm not offering proof of anything. I'm saying that neither I nor the religion I follow is in contention with science. The reason I even mention it so that people will know that not all who believe in God are against science. I have no desire to attack anyone who believes differently from me.
        "“There are several religions that spell God with a capital g.”
        Christians are the only religion that consistently refers to their god’s name as being God. I would however be interested in these other religions. Please list them"
        I'm sure there are others than Christianity and the Baha'i Faith who use the term God. Stating that a specific religion is "the only one that . . ." implies study of all other religions. If you seriously are interested in researching other religions, here is a link to the Baha'i Faith www/ Remember, I only posted it because you said " I would however be interested in these other religions. Please list them". As for others, I didn't see it in a brief look into Buddhism or Hinduism just now. I did see in Islam, when the Koran is translated into English, the word God used in the text, rather than the Arabic term Allah. That is the same for English speaking Baha'is. When it is translated into English, we say God. I don't have time to do more research on that topic, sorry.
        ""Conflict is both natural and expected" if humankind chooses not to advance. Will we get past wartime activities as a planet if we choose conflict over consultation?”
        Another logic fail. Are you suggesting (while typing on your computer having a conversation on the internet) that we have not advanced since the beginning of recorded history? A history filled to the brim with conflict and war?" We have certainly learned much about technology, psychology, etc. But not how to advance our world civilization to world peace, ending hunger, and ending oppression.
        "Again I direct you to my original statement: A desperate attempt of a modern mind to rationalize Bronze Age fairy tales."
        Bronze Age, according to a technological stage between the Stone and Iron Ages, beginning in the Middle East about 4500 bc and lasting in Britain from about 2000 to 500 bc, during which weapons and tools were made of bronze and there was intensive trading. The Baha'i Faith began in 1844.

        December 1, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • mdmann

      Jeanne, I believe many people are able to maintain a harmonious coexistence of religion and science. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean the majority of people are. It creates a lot of tension when proponents of certain religious beliefs insist on overstepping their bounds and pushing for, say, the adoption of Intelligent Design into science curricula at schools. This isn't appropriate. There is already a place where Intelligent Design can be "taught"–church. Schools should be dealing only with science in science courses. One can teach theology in school, but it should stay in a theology class. I think this is not only right, but it is also fair, since there is no church that is going to teach it's congregation about evolution in a proper scientific way. These have to remain separate because they are not the same thing.

      Similarly, science should not ever talk about "God," "understanding God," "trying to figure out everything," etc. This is not science's purpose, and science is not equipped to do such things. Scientists who use such language are being irresponsible. Stephen Hawking has taken some flack from fellow scientists, and rightly so, for engaging in this. I understand what he is trying to do–make some of these concepts more accessible to laypeople–but he is doing damage at the same time.

      December 1, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • James

      Thank you.

      December 5, 2011 at 11:55 am |
      • Junius Gallio

        II have absolutely no problem with those who believe in God. I also have absolutely no problem with those who believe in God, and thereby reject science (not all believers in God do so). I think my posts here on this and other fora will illustrate that.

        II do have somewhat of a problem with those who believe in God, reject science, _and_ want to insult those who do not believe as they do. And I think you will note that there are people of that sort here.

        December 5, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
      • mdmann

        I have no problem with those who believe in God, and thereby reject science, ONLY in the case that they get rid of every bit of technological advance that they use on a day-to-day basis. If they refuse to do such, then they are hypocrites of the n-th degree, and I think they deserve to be called out as such and pilloried.

        December 6, 2011 at 3:17 am |
      • Junius Gallio

        I disagree. They don't reject _all_ science–they only reject the portions that conflict with their religious views. Some of what we collectively call science does depend on other issues, but much does not–case n point, electronics technology has little or no dependence on biology.

        December 6, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
      • mdmann

        I would have to counter-disagree...

        Unfortunately, the entire medical field depends on biology, and in particular, the concept that the genetic makeup of humans is very close to that of certain other animals. Many medical advances were made by doing studies on such animals.

        Even if one were to limit their prejudice to just issues of biology, I don't think they can get away from the simple truth that science, and the currently held theories of science, have a significant impact on their daily life.

        December 6, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
      • Junius Gallio

        >the entire medical field depends on biology

        But biology, as a whole, can be separated from evolution and considered separately–thus medicine is not dependent upon evolution. (Well, that's how the thinking goes–I know it's a fallacy, and you know it's a fallacy, but what can you do?)

        When you get a chance, look up "Confirmation bias" on Wikipedia. It's not that these people just reject evolution because of spite, they simply can't accept it and maintain their worldview. It happens–we're all human.

        December 7, 2011 at 8:52 am |
      • mdmann

        How many of these people do you believe are going to give up access to some drug because it was tested on pigs or some primate, because the scientists involved understood that those animals have closely matching DNA? My guess is not many, if any. This makes them particularly hypocritical. When their life depends on it, they are more than willing to accept the technological advance borne out of a concept with which they don't agree, but THIS life is not even supposed to be the important one. Seems if you were that certain there was something glorious on the "other side" waiting for you, you wouldn't take on a medical procedure or treatment created from an abhorrent idea that would prevent you from transitioning to the hereafter.

        This is where people need to "put their money where their mouths are," as they say.

        December 6, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
      • Junius Gallio

        >How many of these people do you believe are going to give up access to some drug because it was tested on pigs or some primate, because the scientists involved understood that those animals have closely matching DNA?

        How many of them actually understand what "closely matching DNA" actually implies? Cernunos on a crutch, I have actually heard people explain away closely related DNA by saying something like "Well, obviously God re-used this information from species to species–it simply shows that He is an efficient designer."

        At that point, I give up. You cannot persuade a person to something that conflicts that radically with their worldview. They have to accept it or not on their own, but it's no skin off my nose.

        December 7, 2011 at 8:57 am |
      • mdmann

        I understand what you're saying. But when someone says "Well, obviously God re-used this information from species to species–it simply shows that He is an efficient designer," then I would simply have to laugh at them. There is absolutely nothing "obvious" about such a statement. I'd have to point them to Occam's Razor, or some similar concept.

        I maintain that religious beliefs and scientific understanding CAN coexist peacefully only if people keep each part in check. If religious belief does not agree with what can actually be observed, tested, and directly experienced, then it is in conflict with the minutiae of day-to-day existence, and I don't see how anyone can live such a life without going insane. They can claim they aren't in conflict all they want, but in order to do that, they have to resort to further statements which can not be substantiated in any meaningful way, and which are in deeper conflict. In my few, they simply dig a logic hole for themselves. It becomes evident that logic is not something that they understand, and the Bible-quoting begins, which shuts off all avenues for rational discussion.

        I'll have to look up “Confirmation bias,” as I've never heard that term before, but I can sort of imagine what it must mean just based on the name.

        December 8, 2011 at 1:18 am |
  13. FN

    Typo "you won"

    December 1, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  14. palintwit

    Astronomers at the Sarah Palin Galactic Obsevatory / Bait Shop are studying this phenomenon at this very moment. They seem to have pin pointed its origin in an Arkansas trailer park, known to be inhabited by teabaggers and nascar fans.

    December 1, 2011 at 9:19 am |
    • GarZilla

      You should run to NYC and join up with the occupy idiots. Though your IQ appears to be a few tens of points below even theirs.

      December 1, 2011 at 9:53 am |
      • palintwit

        I heard you're finally getting indoor plumbing.

        December 1, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • mdmann


      December 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  15. Uh-Huh

    Well, NOT "exactly." I've tended to agree with mdmann's positions in this to-and-fro, but as has already been sort of "hinted at," a theory really is (in essence) a "current best guess." Too many folks get hung up on the "guess" part. I guess.🙂 What it really means is that "everything we've seen so far (after tons of observations, experiments, reproduction, "tweaking") seems to point to ***** being a predictable or reproducible or verifiable fact. Kind of like the QUANTUM THEORY that enables us to watch (way too much) television every day? Tweaking? How about Newton's "Laws" needing a little "tweaking" if you consider near-light velocities, so that we have "classical" (so-called "Newtonian") theories and "Einsteinian" versions, which take account of something postulated (and repeatedly proven) 250 years later.

    When someone says "theory," think Current Best Guess or Model, Subject to Change or Modification.

    Unless, of course, it's just one or two people (anyone remember "cold fusion?") and it's obvious they pulled something out of their a**, or it's AMAZINGLY self-serving (think: Creation "science").

    December 1, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • Juniis Gallio

      >theory really is (in essence) a "current best guess."

      Um ... no. A theory is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon _that matches the available evidence_, and that has been _repeatedly and successfully tested_. A "guess" is "I pulled this idea out of my ear." Please do not conflate the two: doing so makes you sound foolish in the extreme.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  16. Greg

    The truth of the matter is they have no real idea what happened here, Of course its written as if they have 2 possible explanations but there both put to us as if there is not much doubt, in reality there is nothing but doubt. The have theory's and based upon these theory's they have made two guesses, Both are probably as far off the mark as our early scientists were in thinking the sun revolved around the earth.

    December 1, 2011 at 9:13 am |
    • Sean

      Good point. However you seem to have missed the part where scientist correct their ‘idea’s as new information is available. That is one of the many reason it is superior to the dogma of religion.

      December 1, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  17. Kelly

    I absolutely love science. I believe it to be worship to the God who created the universe. In our efforts to understand and explain our existence, we strive to worship something. For those who are atheists, is it intellect? Is it ourselves? For those who are believers in Intelligent Design, we worship the Creator. I have found that atheists have a greater capacity for faith than most. Faith and or Belief in Intelligent Design does not mean you've checked your brain at the door. The universe, our birth, the THEORY of evolution amongst others are all points to ponder intellectually, the disdain, and super ego should be left out of the conversation.

    December 1, 2011 at 9:10 am |
    • I'm The Best!

      Evolution is fact. It is better understood than gravity

      December 1, 2011 at 9:14 am |
    • SgtSerge

      There is not Theory in regards to evolution....... it is a simple fact. Unless you think "god" put the bones there to test our faith LMAO

      December 1, 2011 at 9:16 am |
    • Sean

      Why is it some theist try so hard to turn atheism and science into a religion? Is it because they lack the basic reading skills to understand the definitions of said words? Or is it more psychological? Some attempt to prove their illogical beliefs valid by distorting facts and bringing others down to their primitive level?

      P.s. Faith and or Belief in Intelligent Design do in fact mean you checked your brain at the door.

      December 1, 2011 at 9:22 am |
      • mdmann

        Sean, it's because many people erroneously believe, and it was actually stated in another post here, that EVERYBODY needs something to worship. Because religious belief fills some critically empty hole for many people, they believe that everyone must have the same deficiency which they must fill SOMEHOW. So if you are an atheist, atheism must be your religion and you must worship hating God. If you are a scientist, science is your religion and you must worship knowledge and logic. It's a failing on the part of many religious people to understand that their religious belief is PERSONAL. It's only supposed to help them. I known many scientists and engineers who are deeply religious, they don't seem to have a problem having those two views. My sense is that they treat them as separate by complementary, but the religion part is kept personal.

        December 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
      • fimeilleur

        Ummmm mdmann,

        I hate to be the one to tell you this, but... I hate your god as much as I hate Unicorns, Leprechauns, the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause (the one said to deliver presents at the end of the month, not the person from whom the legend is said to originate), Satyrs, Nymphs, and the such... I also hate your devil being "Satan" to the same extent.

        No, there is no church of Atheism, nor do we congrigate and recite passages of Darwin's book. We simply don't believe in your version of god... but don't feel bad, we don't believe in Zeus, Appollo, Ra, Baal, or Vishnu either. (I guess you'd call us "equal opportunity haters") We do believe in the testable, predictable foundations of science and we can all pretty much state that we'd abandon a theory the INSTANT that repeatable, testable and CONTRADICTORY facts were brought before the scientific community.

        Hope this clears things up for you.

        December 1, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
      • fimeilleur


        I just spent a while reading your other posts... I believe we're on the same page... I retract "your god" and "your devil" from my previous post. I guess my post would be a clarification in addition to your post. Sorry for the inconvenience.


        December 2, 2011 at 12:50 am |
      • mdmann

        Thanks. I was just trying to post something explaining that I thought you had misinterpreted my post, and I couldn't get it to go through!🙂

        December 2, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • Praise God

      Well put, Kelly. Faith and science go hand in hand. I highly recommend physicist Stephen Barr's book "Modern Science and Ancient Faith."

      December 1, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • Uh-Huh

      Right On, Kelly! I'm not religious, but understand how religion works for (comforts, assures, whatever) some people, so I'm not ANTI-religion, either. As long as folks keep it to themselves, right?🙂 So sad that some folks want to make it a with-us or against-us argument.

      But I'm a science-math-technology sort of guy, lifelong degreed professional and amateur scientist/technician. I STILL find jaw-dropping, wondrous, amazing things JUST IN THE NATURAL WORLD that make me see how there's just GOTTA be "something" going on. Describing it, naming it (or psychoanalyzing it), isn't really necessary. It's everywhere, it's in everything, but like anything "metaphysical" (truth, beauty, love) you just "experience" it. You're "aware of" it. That's all. It's (to me) ALMOST SURELY NOT some big bearded guy in long white robes, and it's got NOTHING TO DO WITH anybody named Jesus or Allah or anything, or "trans-substantiation" (He's the Father, He's the Son, He's a Ghost, he's Three Mints in One!)–no MUMBO-JUMBO necessary, is there? I'm content to accept some WONDER at the incredible prevalence of (for example) things like "pi" and "e" in nature. How strange and wondeful is THAT? No genuflecting, no icons, no recitation necessary. What about the ASTOUNDING COINCIDENCE that our moon is almost exactly 400 times nearer than the sun, whose diameter is almost exactly 400 times greater, so we get the amazing phenomenon of solar eclipses? How amazing is THAT? How many other places in the universe do such coincidences occur? More than just one, ya think? Just the fact that there can seem to be such a subtle "order" to things, and that the more we look and the deeper we look, the more examples we "discover" this "order." Or, was "it" there all along? (cue Twilight Zone theme music).🙂

      That's as "religious" as some of us need to be. There may be no all-encompassing answer or description, and there will always be question, but seeking (and always finding) this order is thrill enough. For some of us. Mosques, synagogues, churches, prayers, songs, rituals, crucifixes, mullahs, popes, archbishops, holy books, holy wars, jihads, crusades? Um, I'll pass, thank you. QUITE happy with what I've got. Just try to keep it down, OK?🙂

      December 1, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • mdmann

      Your mistake here is in saying "In our efforts to understand and explain our existence, we strive to worship something." Science is not about "explaining our existence," at least not in the same sense as religion's purpose is to explain existence. Science seeks to understand how the physical world works. That's it. There is absolutely no need to worship anything if you are just trying to understand how something works. Science and religion are not equal–they are two totally different things created for two totally different reasons. It is a serious error to conflate the two, and that is why there is always this rancorous "debate" about them. You can't debate two things that have nothing to do with each other. It is also wrong to state that everyone needs to worship something. You may need to clearly define what you mean by "worship" before making such a specious claim.

      December 1, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Juniis Gallio

      >In our efforts to understand and explain our existence, we strive to worship something.

      Speak for your self, if you please. I no more "strive to worship something" than I strive to sprout wings out my posterior and fly around town.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  18. Norman

    I like how the phenomenon was that the burst lasted 28 minutes, and neither of those explanations offered a reason for why the burst was so long.

    December 1, 2011 at 8:52 am |
    • Juniis Gallio

      The "initial impact followed by falling impact debris" scenario (Campagna's suggestion in the article) would cover the length of time, but such a scenario would also entail a high initial power to the GRB, tapering off as the impact debris settled. The article says nothing about the strength of the GRB over the time of the event.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  19. pm

    Ric H...I'm so happy for you. Ignorance is bliss.

    December 1, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    • GarZilla

      Yet another colloquialism which gets convoluted at every turn. It goes "IF ignorance is bliss, then knowledge must be folly..." I doubt seriously that the ignorant are any more blissful than the intelligent among us. Maybe for a few seconds after they make yet another attempt at diluting the gene pool further with their bloodlines. If utter stupidity doesn't destroy mankind, the population explosion of mankind assuredly will. That's OK... China has 3000 nukes with which to reduce the numbers by. A "reset button" of sorts. Mankind appears to have been a noble experiment that failed. No wonder the ETs got the hell out of Dodge thousands of years ago.

      December 1, 2011 at 10:01 am |
      • mdmann

        No, I believe the ignorant truly are blissful. That's not necessarily a good thing.

        It is well known that geniuses throughout history have been some of the most troubled souls, often suffering from severe depression. It makes quite a bit of sense, actually, if you have any concern about the human condition. When your heightened sense of awareness of everything makes you see just what is wrong with the world and just how wrong it is, I don't know how you can possibly be happy.

        If you are too stupid to realize how screwed up things are, you tend to live for the moment and not really care about things too deeply. Sounds like a state of bliss to me.

        December 2, 2011 at 12:05 am |
  20. Cam

    The commentary concerning space and technology is always so much more intelligent on the PopSci boards..

    December 1, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  21. eddieb

    God is great. Oh thats right it all happen in a big explosion sorry.

    December 1, 2011 at 7:54 am |
    • Sabetudo

      eddie . . .it's ok, you are learning...but it wasn't a explosion really...still ok tho.

      December 1, 2011 at 8:09 am |
      • FN

        GOD is real and I feel sorry for you nerds. I know one thing you can bash me here but you wouldnt do it to my face LOL!!!!!

        December 1, 2011 at 9:11 am |
      • SgtSerge

        @FN, yeah because you are hidden behind a computer screen you moron.

        December 1, 2011 at 9:14 am |
      • FN

        No SGT because I have been boxing for 6 years now and I would kick your ass LOL!!!!

        December 1, 2011 at 9:16 am |
      • mdmann

        Typical brute. And of course, God loves a brute.

        December 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
      • SgtSerge

        @FN, and I a giant, I will squash you with my foot......
        you really are a fool, to tie boxing with god and that being the reason no one would tell you the truth to your face? WHAT?!?!?
        You are a true moron, ..... "if you tell me something I don't believe I will punch you"
        Hows that "love thy enemey" stuff working out for you?

        December 1, 2011 at 9:19 am |
      • FN

        You one you got the last word moron. LOL!!!!!!
        You idiot!!!!!!

        December 1, 2011 at 9:21 am |
      • SgtSerge

        Thanks for proving my point, it is won

        December 1, 2011 at 9:35 am |
      • Sean

        I love the Christian hypocrisy here. God is real /whine, I’d bash you good! FN stop commenting, you are proving all the Atheist right in their opinions of theists.

        December 1, 2011 at 9:36 am |
      • SgtSerge

        Well put Sean!

        December 1, 2011 at 9:52 am |
    • Leo

      Big EXPANSION, Eddie, not explosion. Please try reading and studying something other than religious propaganda. You might learn something instead of parroting what the preacher told you so you can feel smug and self-important in your willful ignorance.

      December 1, 2011 at 8:28 am |
      • GarZilla

        You misspelled "self-impotent".

        December 1, 2011 at 10:03 am |
    • Wayne

      Eddie, so it has to be one or the other? If you have to believe in God, why couldn't a God of some sort sparked the big bang? I know why, you worship a book.

      December 1, 2011 at 8:35 am |
      • Tonelok

        Time as we know it didn't exist before the big bang, so God could not have been the mechanism in a realm of no time.

        December 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • peter

      Where is God's hand in this? Why would he do it?Come on ,. grow up, open your eyes

      December 1, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • Scott

      There are a lot of unknowns within the galaxy, some things we probably may never know. Regardless, one thing is for sure, all of these questions cannot be answered with religion. Simply not knowing isn't "chalk one up for religion", afterall, that is how religion was invented in the first place.

      Daddy, how come the sun moves across the sky? Because some dude is pulling it across the sky son, DUH!

      It's amazing that some people still believe in these stories.

      December 1, 2011 at 8:46 am |
    • Byrd

      eddieb: Since you're so attuned to the inner workings of this god you champion, please tell him to clean up after himself and get rid of the asteroid belt, including all meteors, comets and asteroids flying around that pose a threat to our continued existence on Earth. He might have also made this Universe a bit more accessible and hospitable to exploration. Designing our atmosphere to have the properties of a really clear and powerful lens might have also been a good idea, but I guess he didn't think of it.

      P.S. Look up at the sky tonight if you will and you might notice that practically everything you see in the sky is either on fire or exploding. Guess he's also a pyromaniac.

      December 1, 2011 at 8:50 am |
      • Ben

        That was funny.

        December 1, 2011 at 9:27 am |
    • james

      yup god is so great that he created a magic book almost like an instruction manual for us to follow blindly.
      And then he came down from the heavens which is as we all know in the sky.Boy god must be an alien then no doubt about it .The manual he created as more a set if rules for retarded people like yourself to follow considering he saw your greedy inferior ancestors indulging in all kinds of crap , for the enlightened ones he didnt even create anything because well as it was then and as it is now the superior meaning more intelligent people probably didnt even give a damn what some crazy alien from space was telling saying.

      December 1, 2011 at 8:54 am |
      • james

        type too quickly with a tons of mistake oh no im turning into a retarded being myself quick someone send me a bible!!!

        December 1, 2011 at 8:58 am |
      • james

        typed too quickly with tons of mistake oh no im turning into a retarded being myself... quick someone send me a bible!!!

        December 1, 2011 at 8:59 am |
      • Patrick

        You guys quit beating on poor Eddie. I'm sure there were explosions going on amidst all the EXPANSION of the universe. For people trying to appear so smart, you sure do exhibit beastly gang behavior.

        Although I did find James' comment one of the funniest I have seen on CNN forums in a LONG time. – thanks for the morning humor!!!

        December 1, 2011 at 9:01 am |
    • Salty Bob

      sorry no gods or monsters just us and alot of lose screws.

      December 1, 2011 at 9:12 am |
    • The Astronomer

      Well... I guess, you guys miss the point, Eddie is being sarcastic... he's not a religious individual; otherwise, he wouldn't have brought God into the discussion... On the other hand, I support the theorie of a comet or travelling star crashing into a neutron star; the gamma ray burst lasted 28 minutes... had it been a big start swallowing another, it would've taken a gazillion years... It's not like it wasn't a big Hollywood star swallowing... those swallow fast. he hehehehe

      December 1, 2011 at 9:13 am |
      • mdmann

        "Eddie is being sarcastic… he’s not a religious individual; otherwise, he wouldn’t have brought God into the discussion…"


        Are you being sarcastic now?

        Maybe people should lay off the sarcasm because it is not readily apparent much of the time. There seem to be all of these unwritten rules ("he wouldn't have brought up God if he were religious").

        December 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • DaveL

      Maybe Xenu threw another 100,000 souls into into a volcano in a far away galaxy. That makes much more sense. The big difference between science and the forces of religion is that scientists groping for a solution making hypothesis and then challenging and beating each other up to test them. Slowly, they make progress. In religion they say the Earth revolves around the sun and then kill anyone that disagrees. That is how the Earth wound up iin the center of universe for thousands of years. Stupidity.

      December 1, 2011 at 9:15 am |
    • MattG

      If God is just a theory, it still has yet to be unproven.

      Hearts should be open to God, Minds open to science.

      Religion was made by people, just like guns and skyscrapers were made by people.

      The spirit of the word is what is important, not the word itself. And Science does not have to dissect it to understand its spirit.

      Both Science and Faith exist for a reason.

      December 1, 2011 at 9:19 am |
      • Sean

        “If God is just a theory, it still has yet to be unproven.”

        Using that logic, I can theorize that there is no Abrahamic god. But in fact the Greek gods are the true deities of the universe. And sense you can’t prove me wrong, that theory is just as valid as yours.

        “Both Science and Faith exist for a reason”.
        I agree. Science exists to help us better understand reality. Faith exists to control the unwashed masses. Attempting to combine these two contrasting concepts result only in perpetuating the stereotype that all theists are stupid.

        December 1, 2011 at 10:35 am |
      • mdmann

        MattG, science does not care to dissect religion. Religion CAN NOT fly in the face of what can be seen, tested, and observed. When the claims of religion don't agree with the observable, all science has to do is sit there. Religion has already shown itself, in such a case, to be stepping outside of its bounds, and it then needs to reel itself back in. Science has a built in process to do this. It's called the Scientific Method. Religion has no such mechanism to check itself. That is a primary problem here. The other is that people insist on conflating science and religion when they have nothing to do with each other.

        In a previous post, I mentioned that a I know many scientists and engineers who are deeply religious. It IS possible for someone to incorporate both into their lives, and they don't appear to be having any kind of internal war going on over it. I believe the key is that they treat the religion part very PERSONALLY. Religion should be a very personal thing, giving you comfort with whatever it is you need comfort. When people start using it to try to "make sense" of the physical world, that's when they get into trouble. Religion is not equipped to do that. Science is. By the same token, science can not comment on the existence or non-existence of an deity. It is not equipped to do that. So, when you suggest that nobody has "proven" God to not exist, my response is "and nobody ever will because it isn't something which can be proven." You either accept the existence of a "God" or you don't. Faith != Proof.

        December 1, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
      • Juniis Gallio

        The existence of God is not a "theory" nor even a "hypothesis," despite Hawkins' arguments to the contrary. Science is not the correct tool to investigate such a question.

        December 1, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  22. Greg

    But the biggest question still needs to be asked... What do the Kardashians think about it?

    December 1, 2011 at 7:40 am |
    • John B

      When queried about said phenom....they drooled a bit and their heads exploded.

      December 1, 2011 at 7:50 am |
      • Leo

        Excellent! But... the question to follow that: Will CNN finally stop REPORTING on them?

        December 1, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • midogs2

      You won't get their answer until you agree to pay them $1M, Greg. How badly do you want to know?

      December 1, 2011 at 8:15 am |
    • peter

      They thought it was Kim's fake B U T T blowing up

      December 1, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • Joe Bloe

      Who cares what the Kardashians think about it? They CERTAINLY AREN'T my role models. Now if she wants to go around posing nude....then we'll talk!

      December 1, 2011 at 8:43 am |
    • james

      ...i guess one of them will have this huge 'royal" style wedding with the gamma ray and then after one week divorced it and then all of sudden appear pregnant and then moved on to another gamma ray..well i dont really know thats what happened right ? frankly i did'nt reallly follow that idiotic thing

      December 1, 2011 at 9:06 am |
    • GarZilla

      You'll have to wait until after their next BUTT expansion event.

      December 1, 2011 at 10:07 am |
  23. Josh

    What's a "helium star" ? A regular star that completely fused all its hydrogen into helium, and then just stopped (a quiet death)?

    December 1, 2011 at 7:13 am |
    • 3rdEyeOpened

      When you look up at the sky at night you can see many blue twinkling stars. Those are helium stars.

      December 1, 2011 at 7:24 am |
      • Jimbo

        this guy

        December 1, 2011 at 7:59 am |
      • LuisWu

        Helium Star – From Wikipedia:

        "A helium star or helium strong star is a class O or B star (blue), which has extraordinarily strong helium lines and weaker than normal hydrogen lines, indicating strong stellar winds and a mass loss of the outer envelope. Extreme helium stars (EHe) entirely lack hydrogen in their spectra.[1]

        Previously, a helium star was a synonym for a B class star, but this usage is considered obsolete.

        A helium star is also a term for a hypothetical star that could occur if two helium white dwarfs with a combined mass of at least 0.5 solar masses merge and subsequently start nuclear fusion of helium, with a lifetime of a few hundred million years. It is believed this is the origin of the extreme helium stars."

        December 1, 2011 at 8:31 am |
      • elflander

        If intelligent life should ever evolve on some planet orbiting a helium star, I bet they would talk funny. –Deep Thoughts

        December 1, 2011 at 9:07 am |
  24. 3rdEyeOpened

    Nice to see CNN talking about pulsars, but they fail to mention the true name of neutron stars, and how they are created (via supernova). And The gamma ray bursts that they are witnessing are nothing more than the electromagnetic beams being emitted from the axis of the pulsar (neutron) star, due to its fast rotation. The only argument I see here is the debate determining where exactly this gamma burst happened. For it to have been a 28 minute burst, I'd say it more likely than not occurred in our milky way and not 5.5 billion light years away.

    December 1, 2011 at 5:48 am |
    • bob

      the 'true' name of a neutron star? i hope you dont mean a pulsar – as that is simply a class of neutron star.

      December 1, 2011 at 6:28 am |
      • 3rdEyeOpened

        well of course. Binary and pulsars are the types of neutron stars. But it's obvious this article is referring to a pulsar and not a binary star swallowing up a helium star.

        December 1, 2011 at 6:41 am |
      • I'm The Best!

        A binary is just two stars in orbit around each other. A neutron star can be in a binary but a binary doesn't have to have a neutron star on it

        December 1, 2011 at 8:27 am |
    • Dave

      Why if it was so long does it have to be so close? What makes our galaxy so special that we have long bursts and distant galaxies are capable of only short bursts? I fail to see the link between close=long and distant=short...I would think that both are capable of both.

      December 1, 2011 at 7:38 am |
    • Buck Jackson

      Thank you, Sheldon.

      December 1, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • Neeneko

      Ahm.. it does not look like they are taling about pulsars. The type of burst they are describing is produced during the collapse of a star, not the repeating beams produced by an in-falling disk around a neutron star.

      December 1, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • WeDon'tMatter

      You do realize that CNN didn't make this story up don't you? This story was told to them by the science community so if you have a problem with the use of neutron stars in the story you should talk to Sergio Campana, he is the one that brought them up.

      December 1, 2011 at 8:51 am |
  25. scientist

    It is great to know that science is so important, it is headline news 1 year after it occurs.

    December 1, 2011 at 5:42 am |
    • Michael Hunt Esq.

      It's a headline now because the research was only just published this week.

      December 1, 2011 at 6:38 am |
    • Dave

      Do you mean "one year" or "one light year" after it happened?

      December 1, 2011 at 7:39 am |
      • Leo


        A year measures time.

        A LIGHT year measures DISTANCE.

        December 1, 2011 at 8:31 am |
      • jj

        *sigh* – Dave made a joke, Sheldon.

        December 1, 2011 at 8:52 am |
      • Dave

        Thank you for seeing that Mr. Hofstadter, and thank you for pointing it out to Sheldon. I swear, "some people just can't see the nose in front of their face"... Pinocchio, 1940.

        December 1, 2011 at 9:34 am |
      • Dave

        Sheldon: You may not think my little joke is funny, but I come from a planet approximately 5,878,625,371,567 miles away, and I can tell you people are laughing hysterically over my joke.

        December 1, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • seppe

      No, it's because the money for this program is running out...

      December 1, 2011 at 8:03 am |
    • tem

      Actually it happened at least 100,000 years ago 🙂

      December 1, 2011 at 8:52 am |
  26. 3rdEyeOpened

    Nice to see CNN talking about pulsars, but they fail to mention the true name of neutron stars, and how they are created (via supernova). And The gamma ray bursts that they are witnessing are nothing more than the electromagnetic beams being emitted from the axis of the pulsar (neutron) star, due to its fast rotation. The only argument I see here is the debate determining where exactly this gamma burst happened. For it to have been a 28 minute burst, I'd say it more likely that not occurred in our milky way and not 5.5 billion light years away.

    December 1, 2011 at 5:37 am |
    • LuisWu

      A gamma ray burst is not the beam from a neutron star. That's a different phenomenon. The beams are steady, not a burst. A gamma ray burst is usually extremely powerful, much more powerful than the beams emanating from the poles of a rapidly spinning neutron star.

      December 1, 2011 at 5:45 am |
      • 3rdEyeOpened

        The electromagnetic beams from a pulsar occurs after the gamma burst. They are one in the same.

        December 1, 2011 at 5:51 am |
      • LuisWu

        They are absolutely NOT the same. The beams of particles emanating from the poles of a rapidly spinning neutron star are constant. The gamma ray burst is not constant but a one time event, that is billions of times more powerful than the particle beams. Look it up. Study it. Get your facts right.

        December 1, 2011 at 5:53 am |
      • 3rdEyeOpened

        And if you look at the illustration, you can see the beams shooting out from each pole of the axis while the massive explosion covers it all.

        December 1, 2011 at 5:55 am |
      • mdmann

        It's an ILLUSTRATION–an artist's imagined rendering of the event. Do you think the person who created this illustration was actually there looking at it? Do you think they really even understand what the heck they were drawing and were striving ever so mightily for a 100% accurate and faithful result?

        My goodness, this forum is getting more and more surreal.

        December 1, 2011 at 6:07 am |
      • 3rdEyeOpened

        My facts are straight. you just want to be contrary and not look at the entire picture. you are right in saying the beams are constant but after the explosion, the beams always follow. This is a 2 for 1 show you are seeing.

        December 1, 2011 at 5:57 am |
      • LuisWu

        3rdeyeopened – I'm not trying to be contrary, I know what I'm talking about. I'm an amateur astronomer and I've studied this phenomenon to a great extent. LOOK IT UP and you'll see for yourself.

        December 1, 2011 at 6:07 am |
      • 3rdEyeOpened

        Basically, beams/ rays/ bursts/ explosions happen all the time when cores of stars collapse or 2 stars collide. That's nothing new. But the way this pulsar star took on a helium star is. That was my point.

        December 1, 2011 at 6:52 am |
      • Uncle Owen

        3rdEye, no offense, but you are absolutely wrong. GRBs and pulsars are in no way the same. GRBs emit more energy than an entire galaxy for a short period of time; pulsars are periodic observations of the emissions of a neutron star as its axis sweeps across our field of observation.

        December 1, 2011 at 8:49 am |
    • LuisWu

      The beams were there before the explosion and are unrelated. They are there before and after. The explosion occurred (according to one of the theories) because of a large mass merging with the neutron star. The beams are just a natural phenomenon of a pulsar and were there before the explosion and totally unrelated. LOOK IT UP.

      December 1, 2011 at 6:00 am |
      • 3rdEyeOpened

        You miss my point. The fact that an already pulsating star swallows up another star, basically repeating the process that created the neutron star itself, is fascinating. What I'm trying to say is, the burst itself isn't what has the scientists all nervous. It's where it occurred and the 28 minute time span it happened in. The article basically paints a different picture focusing more on the burst and not so much the debate.

        December 1, 2011 at 6:17 am |
      • 3rdEyeOpened

        Your argument is in correlation with mine, and I'm not disagreeing with you. I think it's more of a misunderstanding.

        December 1, 2011 at 6:19 am |
      • LuisWu

        You said "The gamma ray bursts that they are witnessing are nothing more than the electromagnetic beams being emitted from the axis of the pulsar (neutron) star, due to its fast rotation. "
        That is simply not true. The explosion was probably over the entire neutron star and unrelated to the existing beams. (Just wanted to clarify this).

        December 1, 2011 at 6:28 am |
      • 3rdEyeOpened

        I don't need to look it up. I have studied this for a while myself. Let's stop the argument and let me tell you what I find amazing. Well we both know that a pulsar (neutron) star is created when 2 stars collide and the compressed core explodes creating a supernova. This same process occurred yet again with the same pulsar that was born as a result of 2 stars prior. I find it amazing that this pulsar in a way mutated itself or created another stage by finding another star to swallow before dying out. I never heard of this happeneing before.

        December 1, 2011 at 6:33 am |
      • LuisWu

        Actually that happens fairly often. Especially if the system was originally a trinary system. At least, it's not really that uncommon in the sense that there are probably billions of pulsars in the Universe and it occurs every few years or so, or at least is observable from Earth every few years. Black holes also merge with neutron stars on occasion as well as with other black holes and other objects.

        December 1, 2011 at 7:06 am |
      • 3rdEyeOpened

        I'm sure it happens quite often too, but to actually measure and witness it is quite rare. I have yet to see research on pulsars merging with blue stars to become new pulsars. And did you hear or read research about a black hole in the center of our galaxy that was released to the public last year? Maybe there is some linkage between that black hole and the gamma burst discovered last Christmas. Makes me go hmmmmmmm.

        December 1, 2011 at 7:31 am |
      • LuisWu

        There are actually at least 4 black holes in the center of our galaxy. This is old news, scientists have know about that for several years. Most galaxys have at least one black hole in their center, with the exception of dwarf galaxys.

        December 1, 2011 at 8:15 am |
      • MattB

        thats enough.

        December 1, 2011 at 8:31 am |
      • I'm The Best!

        Just to clarify, it doesn't take a binary system to create a neutron star. The star just needs to be go supernova without having the mass to create a black hole.

        It needs more mass than stars that turn into dwarf stars but less mass than stars that turn into black holes. No binary system needed. So the phenomena of a normal large star dropping some of its material onto a neutron star isn't that rare because binary steels are all over the place

        December 1, 2011 at 8:46 am |
  27. Jealous

    I hope to last 28 minutes some day, too.

    December 1, 2011 at 4:10 am |
    • GarZilla

      Yes, and a release of several million tons of ejecta as well, eh?

      December 1, 2011 at 7:53 am |
  28. MyNameIsMyNameIs

    Chuck Norris did it.

    December 1, 2011 at 3:32 am |
    • Christopher

      It's unfortunate Chuck Norris isn't "godly" enough to cure his fans from idiocy.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:56 am |
      • anon

        it is also unfortunate that Christopher is unable to take a joke

        December 1, 2011 at 8:20 am |
  29. Melchizadek

    I think, therefore I am. I know nothing to be of truth other than this.

    December 1, 2011 at 2:48 am |
  30. Aaron

    Comet colliding into a neutron star? Nope, Chuck Testa...

    December 1, 2011 at 2:13 am |
    • Narwhal

      You seem to be about 2 months behind.

      December 1, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  31. Allknowing

    I know its caused by AGW caused by big oil caused by the US caused by Bush-Cheney

    December 1, 2011 at 1:54 am |
    • GarZilla

      Yet another "Occupy" idiot, knowing all of nothing, and representing 99% of no one else.

      December 1, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  32. huxley

    Hopefully this is a signal from intelligent life. Finally.

    So sick of only being able to talk to monkeys.

    December 1, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • mdmann

      Ain't that the truth, Aldous!

      December 1, 2011 at 2:04 am |
    • Dr. Zaius

      Do you have something against monkeys?

      December 1, 2011 at 6:12 am |
      • Leo

        Only the ones involved in politics and religion.

        December 1, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  33. augustghost

    HMMM on Christmas...Maybe the 3 wisemen went high def

    December 1, 2011 at 1:47 am |
  34. ygbfsm

    Why are we looking at an artist's impression if a gamma-ray burst was observed last Christmas? Was this a visual discovery or a numbers spike? And they still don't know what to make of it, but it looks alot like a Christmas tree ornament to me.

    December 1, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • Filppula51

      Gamma rays are not within the visible spectrum. The emission was sensed, but the only way to comprehend it is to project it onto the visual spectrum (through an artistic rendering). It's not a "numbers spike" either. Astrophysicists have very sensitive equipment specifically designed to detect these types of things. It's a measurement, and a very long one at that.

      December 1, 2011 at 1:30 am |
    • huxley

      Better question is why did they show an artist rendition of a neutron and helium star collision if that doesn't match the story in the least.

      December 1, 2011 at 2:38 am |
      • Leo

        Finally, someone asked the right question. The answer is because these are the dumb masses playing to the dumber masses. They found a pretty astronomy picture and decided it was good enough. I'm confident within a high margin of certainty that it's as simple as that.

        December 1, 2011 at 8:37 am |
  35. Peter E. Brown

    Perhaps it was a view of what is in store for earth on December 23, 2012, when the earth comes to an end, based on the Mayan, Aztec and Egyptian (old world) calendars. They have all been visited by aliens thousands of years ago and told what time will offer them and when the world will cease to exist. Wasting money on these occurances is a waste as it will become meaningless. It sounds like we will all die instantly. That will at least be a help over an agonizing death being eaten by wild animals or something.

    December 1, 2011 at 1:01 am |
    • Aaron

      Off your meds again Peter?

      December 1, 2011 at 2:07 am |
    • Tim

      It's always funny watching people comment online about how in a year, the world will end.. yet the people are online, arguing on comment areas, forums, blogs, etc. about nonsense in the meantime, going about their meaningless lives, etc. I bet a lot of those people still have health and life insurance and jobs "just in case". What do the weirdos do when the world continues to spin? FYI, the date thing is wrong anyway, there were miscounted angent rulers, which is what the calendars and dates were based on originally to get an idea of the time lines/years to start with, so we're already way off anyway. That just makes it so much more frustrating for the doomsdayers.

      December 1, 2011 at 4:23 am |
    • kevin

      So the egyptians just waisted time voting?

      December 1, 2011 at 4:31 am |
      • Sean

        Yes, but that is unrelated to the end of the world.

        December 1, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  36. tony

    Perhaps there was a Bush and Cheney and an oh so easy to win war in a Galaxy far far away.?

    December 1, 2011 at 12:38 am |
  37. bcg

    You science-geeks are funny

    December 1, 2011 at 12:26 am |
    • sharoom

      I like all the cool stuff they made possible. Thank you science!

      December 1, 2011 at 2:13 am |
    • Leo

      Science geeks make the world go 'round. Do you like your cars, computers, fancy phones, medications, household chemicals, electricity, plumbing, refrigeration, heat, air conditioning, airplanes, and the many other products of science you use every day? If so, have a bit more respect for the scientists who gave those things to you. For you see... the GEEKS shall inherit the earth. Indeed, we already have.

      December 1, 2011 at 8:41 am |
  38. dddddd

    Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    December 1, 2011 at 12:20 am |
  39. fred

    So, is my tax money going to support these folks with their toy telescopes and satelites? If so, I want a refund.

    November 30, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
    • Barry

      Really? I am amazed that you can read, let alone find your way into the science section of CNN!

      December 1, 2011 at 12:00 am |
    • mdmann

      Why are they "toy telescopes?"

      So, it would appear that you feel this is a pointless exercise for anyone to be engaged in. Could I ask you to explain why?

      Put another way, if some technological advance were to come out of this research which...oh let's just say for the sake of argument produced a fuel source which was limitless, clean, and dirt cheap, would you turn it down as you felt there was no point in the research?

      I'm setting up a "cautionary tale" scenario for you. Much of what you take for granted in your daily life was made possible by people like these scientists working on things which seemed outlandish and completely removed from "everyday folk." How much of the modern trappings of life are you willing to give up because the critical development work seemed so far removed from what you consider to be important?

      I'm all for you not helping to pay for such work, but I would insist that you not be able to reap any rewards from it as well. That seems fair to me.

      December 1, 2011 at 12:02 am |
      • thes33k3r

        Thanks to mdmann for standing up for science and reason.

        December 1, 2011 at 12:24 am |
      • mdmann

        We have to fight cretinism one cretin at a time, working together. Thanks for joining the fight!

        December 1, 2011 at 12:39 am |
      • Sharpshot

        Excellenty put mdmann. Most technology these days started in a lab that back in the day were working on projects that didn't mean squat to the general public but now its part of everyday life.

        December 1, 2011 at 12:39 am |
      • Lexx

        Excellent retort mdmann!!

        December 1, 2011 at 1:43 am |
      • madscientist

        Ditto, although I would urge caution with regards to the possibility of new technologies coming out of research. Science is just the process of gaining understanding. Sometimes we revolutionize virtually every technological facet we have (think quantum theory, and what that brought us!), and sometimes we don't. Understanding ought to be its own reward, but if you are just out for benefits, consider this: the more we know, the greater the possibility of having another huge jump in technology. Therefore it is most desirable to research as much and as many things as possible. Or more bluntly: Funding! Now, please.

        That said, don't bother trying to convince some barely literate imbecile of why we need science. I'm sure people like that would more likely thank some imaginary deity than doctors and/or medications for solving their health problems...

        December 1, 2011 at 4:33 am |
      • mdmann

        I agree with you 100% on the quest for knowledge being it's own reward. Much of the technology that is in the hands of people really shouldn't be, as they aren't intelligent enough to use it responsibly (I personally think cellphones are one of the worst inventions of all time for putting too much into the hands of people who don't understand what they are doing or what they've got). So I have a mixed feelings about science used for technological advance. I consider myself a Luddite, actually.

        However, I was working under the assumption that I was speaking to a cretin in that previous post, so I wanted to try to relate to it on its own level. The quest for knowledge is not going to be understood by someone who clearly doesn't understand where the very things his life revolves around came from. Materialism seems to be something these beings flock to like flies to a dead carcass. The threat of not having access to something everyone else has really gets them. I wanted to keep it somewhat high brow by considering clean energy. Had I said "the newest cellphone technology with 3D holographic projection of the party you're talking to," it would have made me feel dirty.

        December 1, 2011 at 5:29 am |
    • clearfog

      How much tax could there be on a minimum wage income?

      December 1, 2011 at 12:14 am |
      • mdmann


        December 1, 2011 at 12:26 am |
    • Former Marine

      You got it. Come find me and I'll give you your .0002 cents back that you contributed.

      December 1, 2011 at 12:17 am |
      • Former Army

        Great, leave it to a marine to deal with such small numbers and then offer a refund on a fraction of the same. Jarhead..😉

        December 1, 2011 at 2:16 am |
  40. John

    exactly and its something totally new and different we didnt know about or expected that can wipe us out in an instant......

    November 30, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • DonkeyD

      Pluto did it!

      December 1, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • Mike

      No, not even close. There simply was not enough energy to propel these gamma-rays at us from that great a distance. We get a pretty light show; the universe goes on.

      December 1, 2011 at 9:13 am |
  41. bobbydiggs

    These Horton hears a who human being. Know nothing about the universe.

    November 30, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
  42. GamaMania


    November 30, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  43. caw

    It's obvious. God Sneezed. Gamma radiation is actually god snot.

    November 30, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • GamaMania

      Don't get out of line,

      November 30, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • Uncle George

      That's a new one; but I've always heard that a black hole is where God divided by 0.

      December 1, 2011 at 12:59 am |
  44. cpc65

    Pesky neutron stars! Always stirring up trouble and controversy. They don't seem to care about the GRAVITY of the situation.

    November 30, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • junius gallio

      How could you make a pun of such a weighty matter?

      November 30, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
      • Bronso

        He must be really DENSE.

        December 1, 2011 at 1:57 am |
    • clearfog

      Both of you suck.

      December 1, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • Timetraveler

      You have no clue what a neutron star is, do you?

      December 1, 2011 at 12:48 am |
    • emc

      Weight for it... This topic is too heavy for me🙂 But the real question is "if a red giant envelopes a neutron star in a vacuum, does it make a sound"?

      December 1, 2011 at 5:21 am |
  45. what?

    So If you can physically see how all the continents fit together to form one crust on a smaller planet that would make you a fool! (the continents do actually do that) hmmm!

    November 30, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
  46. tjsteven

    My explanation .... the flying spaghetti noodle monster farted.

    November 30, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  47. Rex

    Ok, None of you are being serious, I'm outta here. Tards.

    November 30, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • Fookin' Prawn

      Don't let the GRB hit you in the keester on the way out.

      November 30, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  48. The Reality Hurts!

    The center of our galaxy is a big plasma engine that supplies all of our physical planets and stars with energy. They feed from this and they actually grow like embryos. Oo

    November 30, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • kishaque

      Chuck Norris at it again. Seriously man why can't he just enjoy his retirement.

      November 30, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  49. Galimpa

    "Campana's research says the explosion occurred in our own Milky Way galaxy, about 100,000 light years away."

    That seems a little odd, since the whole galaxy is only about 100,000 light years in diameter and we're located about 2/3 of the way from the center.

    November 30, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
    • darkyam

      I thought the same thing. I also love the difference in distance they're arguing about. The difference in strength of the original burst is monumental.

      November 30, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • dudekevich

      well you know how reliable facts are that come from CNN. lol

      November 30, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • bender

      100,000 has only one significant digit. Quit spitting hairs and think!

      December 1, 2011 at 12:35 am |
      • An astronomer

        Unfortunately, far too few people actually know what "significant figures" are, much less how to interpret the 100,000.

        What is also not obvious from that statement is that the Galaxy (the MW) is approx. 100,000 light years in diameter for the luminous mass, which is only about 5-10% of the total mass. The best-fit models for the 90-95% of the MW Galaxy mass in dark matter use a spheroid that's about 300% bigger, centered on the same place (Sagittarius A). So, take these numbers with a grain of salt, and realize they are also filtered through the media, which frequently screw up these details in translation.

        The important thing is to read, think, and be open-minded.

        December 1, 2011 at 12:56 am |
    • pm

      I believe the scientist, not you.

      December 1, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  50. Hulk



    November 30, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • Uh-Huh

      Hulk up past Hulk's bedtime, evidently.🙂

      December 1, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  51. Lizzy10

    Come on, you all know you started to sing "Doc Bruce Banner, belted by Gamma rays, turns into the Hulk, ain't he unglamoraze".

    November 30, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  52. Chuck Norris

    A neutron star didn't suck in a comet – I sucked in the neutron star.
    Them spat it out into the cosmos like gamma ray flavored tobacco.
    Because I'm Chuck Norris.

    November 30, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
    • Rex

      Get outta Here you Troll!

      November 30, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
      • mdmann

        I'd rather you say that to these religious nutcases who probably troll science blogs and forums to start proselytizing, knowing full well that it isn't welcome.

        November 30, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
      • darkyam

        It seems there are at least as many atheists on any articles CNN posts about religious beliefs, calling those who believe in something names rather than either making cogent arguments or, as you suggest, keeping unwelcome opinions to themselves.

        November 30, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
      • Fookin' Prawn

        How hard is it to stfu and take a joke?

        November 30, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • larlarme


      November 30, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • ThePreacherTheTeacher

      When Chuck Norris Does pushups, he pushes the universe down.

      November 30, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
      • GarZilla

        ...To the tune of 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001%
        of the mass of the Earth, perhaps. You are no preacher, nor any teacher, save the fact that intelligent folk place you firmly where you belong... Flush!

        December 1, 2011 at 8:10 am |
  53. Hold up!

    The Electric Universe Theory Explains it all! Also coincides with the Expanding Earth Theory! Plasma Oo

    November 30, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
    • GarZilla


      December 1, 2011 at 8:11 am |
  54. Bryan

    It's unbelievable how this light years crap just takes old astrophysics news and recycles it as if it were brand new. Get some new information or at least stay current with things that are happening.

    November 30, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • Andrew

      Old news? This was published in Nature less than a week ago. What are you talking about? @_@

      November 30, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • Fookin' Prawn

      Yeah, I hate it when sh!t that happened 5.5 billion years ago is finally visible from earth and then everyone talks about it like it just happened.

      November 30, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
      • flakko

        Hilarious. You win.

        November 30, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
  55. dudley0415

    It is most amazing however, that any new observation devolves into an atheist/Believer free-for-all, when it's really not necessary. Both sides preach words they know the other side cannot hear = limited imagination and zero tolerance, and neither side will admit that it shows either aspect.

    November 30, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • binky42

      As our known universe becomes larger, God becomes smaller.

      November 30, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • darkyam

      dudley, exactly. A lot of people believe whatever they're told by either side's experts without even looking into the matter themselves, let alone understanding it thoroughly. What gets me is not when there's a debate about it, even among people who don't have in-depth knowledge, but when the sides devolve into calling each other names or using outlier examples to try to prove everyone on the other side wrong (and, by extension, themselves right, which is a faulty proposition itself).

      binky, I disagree. If someone believes in God, then the more we learn about the universe and how complex and vast it is, the greater God seems as the Creator of it all. If you don't believe God exists, that's one thing, but I don't understand how you can say that He becomes smaller as the universe grows larger.

      November 30, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
      • binky42

        He becomes smaller because He is less relevant today. If they believed that the expansion of scientific understanding = greater glory for God, why are so many trying to have real science removed from the classroom? As for accusing atheists of not knowing enough to comment on religion – a 2010 Pew study revealed that atheists/agnostics performed higher on a knowledge of religion test than any religious group surveyed. I went to religious schools for 11 years, so I'm very familiar with the concepts.

        November 30, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
      • mdmann

        I believe it is wrong to conflate matters of science and matters of religion, as the two are intended to perform two very different functions which are mutually exclusive. The purpose of science is to understand how things work on a physical level. It IS NOT to figure out what created it, why, or what our "purpose" in it is. It should not ever talk about "gods" or "creation." Religion seeks to give meaning to human existence. The statements made in a religious context CAN NOT fly in the face of what can be readily seen, tested, and observed. If it does, then it is clearly wrong, and needs to reel itself in.

        Science and religion are not the same, and the reason this "debate" is always so rancorous is because these aren't things that have any business being in a single debate. They have nothing to do with each other. It would be akin to having a debate where one person argues that bananas are often yellow while the other side argues apples are often red.

        Why on earth can't people get it through their heads that a debate can only occur between two things which have some relationship with each other? Science and religion have nothing to do with each other.

        November 30, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
      • binky42

        Science and religion have everything to do with each other while religious groups are lobbying all over this country to remove real science from school text books.

        November 30, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
      • mdmann

        They would not be doing that if they realized they have NOTHING to do with each other. We aren't going to solve that problem by continuing to try to have a "debate" between two things which can't be debated.

        November 30, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
      • Andrew

        mdmann, that doesn't make religion sound any more useful than epistemology. Sure, we could all be brains in vats, and we could all be the creations of some cosmic deity... but if we can't show this to be true on the basis that we don't know they're not, why should we care?

        November 30, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
      • mdmann

        I really don't understand your question. We can't show anything in religion is true. It is based on FAITH, and there is no proof for matters of faith. Just the idea of trying to show religion vs. science to be true is already too far into this paradigm of trying to compare the two. Science provides its own mechanisms for determining the validity of a theory–that theory must 1) explain observable phenomena, 2) predict phenomena which can then be further observed, and 3) stand up to scrutiny by peers who are knowledgeable on that topic. If a scientifc theory can't do these things, it is not accepted. Religion comes with no such process. You either accept that the ideas are true or you don't. You can not prove the existence of a deity. That deity can make themselves patently obvious, but no non-deity can prove their existence. One also can't prove that a deity produced something or caused something to happen. You have to just accept these things as truth. There is no overlap between these two ways of thinking. That doesn't mean a person can't have both (I know plenty of people in science and engineering fields who are very religious; also Sir Isaac Newton among others of his period, was devout). Do you believe that people who believe in science and have religious faith are constantly warring with themselves over which of their belief systems is correct? No. They understand that the two provide distinct, and for them, complementary views on the world.

        November 30, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
      • Andrew

        My question remains though... why should we care? Religion is entirely unprovable, it's the same as 'maybe we're all brain's in vats'... who cares? What good does it do for us? Why should we treat religion with any more seriousness than the brain in a vat skeptical hypothesis?

        November 30, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
      • mdmann

        OK, so that's your question. I didn't understand that is what you were asking. My answer is you shouldn't care if you don't want to. If you don't believe in religion, don't. If you do believe in religion, do. My feeling is that religious belief is a PERSONAL matter. It is to help YOU and only you make sense of whatever it is you are using it to make sense of. If a person needs to invoke a deity to feel comfortable about their existence, I have no problem with that. The caveat is that they can't try to force that on anyone else, particularly if their beliefs fly in the face of what can actually be seen, tested, and observed. If somebody wants to believe some God made the moon out of swiss cheese, I don't really care, as long as they aren't forcing that viewpoint on others and aren't put into positions where they could force that viewpoint on others. I believe that if one who doesn't believe in religion insists on engaging someone who does in a"debate," they would be much better off sticking to the PERSONAL aspect of religious belief than trying to compare and contrast religion and science. You will never get anywhere with such an argument because the two parties are not even talking the same language.

        November 30, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
      • junius gallio

        To Mdmann–well, thought, and well said. Thank you!

        Thought I would have to argue that the moon is obviously made from mozzarella, not swiss.😉

        November 30, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
      • mdmann


        November 30, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
      • Swamiji

        Just wanted to interject that there are some religious approaches that, to some extent, have scientific bases, and even employed scientific methods to test the truth of their beliefs or hypotheses. I am speaking mainly about certain types of yoga meditation and vedantic scriptures. I'm sure there may be others. Also, with the rapidly growing field of quantum mechanics and theory, some science now sounds peculiarly similar to vedantic metaphysics, know what I mean? Have any of you folks heard of a book called "The Science of Religion" by Paramahansa Yogananda? Its a very thought provoking read that I think real scientific people like I see posting on here would enjoy. Just wanted to put that out there. Love the discussion!

        December 1, 2011 at 1:46 am |
      • mdmann

        Could you explain how quantum mechanics and its theory bears a resemblance to vedantic metaphysics? I don't profess to know vendantic metaphysics, and don't know quantum as well as I would like, but I have never heard any such comparsion before. I'd be interested to know on what such a comparison is based, since there is no theology or psychology, to my knowledge, in quantum mechanics. It does have very strong ties to cosmology, though, but I have my doubts that the cosmology is viewed the same way between the two.

        December 1, 2011 at 2:03 am |
      • bwllm

        I believe some of the people on this thread do not understand that some people need to have a reason to exist. That's what religion does. People that try to use science to discredit religion are just people that have a negative view of religion from some past experience in their life and are normally the type of people that take joy in making other people miserable.

        December 1, 2011 at 2:33 am |
      • mdmann

        It seems to me that there are an awful lot of people who claim to be religious who shamelessly go to great lengths to try to make others miserable. Your characterization of "people who have a negative view of religion" seems quite preposterous to me, given the overwhelming evidence of what I mentioned. The religious right of this country seems to do absolutely nothing but try to inject itself in the most offensive way into the personal life of everyone it deems unworthy. You need to get a bit of perspective.

        December 1, 2011 at 2:53 am |
      • mdmann

        And I would just add that I agree that religion serves to give people a purpose for their existence. The key here is "for THEIR existence." If they just kept it at that, things would probably be OK, but many of them insist of trying to define everyone else's existence in the same way. That is wrong. You don't get to define someone else's existence, nor do they get to define yours. And since science isn't in the business of trying to define existence, there shouldn't be a problem. Many adherents of religion don't seem to understand this, though, just as many adherents of science don't understand that religion is not something that they need to demean. It's this inability of people to keep clear what the purpose of these two things is that is the source of all of the problems. Keep your religious beliefs PERSONAL. Keep it relevant TO YOU. Don't step outside of that and inflict your beliefs on everyone else. Don't demean someone simply for having a religious belief.

        December 1, 2011 at 3:02 am |
  56. Zeus

    The Human Physics Theory is Perfect! HAHAHAHA! keep thinking that! MORTALS!

    November 30, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
  57. dudley0415

    Fascinating stuff. A neutron star merges with a red giant, goes supernova and forms a black hole. Science fiction merges with science fact. Truly fascinating.

    November 30, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  58. binky42

    Don't worry about the little ones. Worry about stars like WR 104 going supernova and sending a GRB this way that's so big it could wipe out all life on this planet.

    November 30, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • Fookin' Prawn

      Yep, the cosmos is big...but sometimes just not big enough. A 'neighbor' doesn't need to be all that close to affect us.

      November 30, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
    • GarZilla

      Goes? If it did so, it did it a LONG time ago. Try Went next TIME, genius.

      December 1, 2011 at 8:18 am |
  59. Rex

    The point of Science is to figure out everything. We use the Scientific process to prove a theory as fact .
    The steps of the scientific method are to:
    Ask a Question, Do Background Research, Construct a Hypothesis, Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment,
    Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion, and finally Communicate Your Results.
    Unfortunately people used to be looked at as being blasphemous for their ideas, questions, or findings. Only recently has the worl begun to accept the truth of our world. Through Science we will live on through the milenia, to the end of time itself.

    November 30, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • junius gallio

      > The point of Science is to figure out everything.

      Almost. Change that to "The point of science is yo figure out _natural phenomena_," and you/re set. Science cannot deal with "everything," and there are large areas of knowledge (such as esthetics, ethics, or metaphysics) that science is completely the wrong tool to explore.

      November 30, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
      • mdmann

        Yes! Thank you! I agree. The purpose of science is to understand how things work on a physical level. It is most certainly NOT to understand everything. I believe the few scientists who talk about stuff like "The Theory of Everything" (you hear me, Mr. Hawking??!) are doing science a disservice. Other scientists have expressed their dismay over such.

        November 30, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
      • Uh-Huh

        What he said. It's noteworthy that SOME of the so-called "faithful" feel compelled to "correct" the disbelief or skepticism of others–and it's rarely (if ever) the other way 'round. If your BS (don't get worked up–in this case I only mean Belief System) works for you, that's fine. Go ye forth and savor thy bliss. At the same time though, recognize that your BS is just THAT (your little Comfort Zone), and may not float EVERYONE'S boat.

        December 1, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • GarZilla

      Yet dopes like you wish to refer to folks in a discussion as "Tards" (unless that was your sig), as you declare yourself to be making an exit, which you in fact, did not make. You ARE the weakest dork. Goodbye!

      December 1, 2011 at 8:20 am |
  60. fred

    gamma-ray burst from deathstar exploding

    November 30, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • cykill45

      i new it...every time we blow that thing up, they build another one...

      November 30, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  61. Sean

    The Hulk has returned from space.

    November 30, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  62. las

    Jesus was born in June or July,thesheppards had their sheep out in the pastures they will not do that in the cold months

    November 30, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • darkyam

      Actually, most theologians and historians seem to think he was born in March or April.

      November 30, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  63. rudix

    No one no nothing all is bla bla

    November 30, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
  64. archimedes109

    You people better wise up and start worshiping the almighty GRB. It totally owns our sorry a$$e$. The almight GRB can destroy all life on Earth. Even better, the almight GRB can easily sway the course of evolution by casually introducing a mass extinction here and there. All hail the almighty GRB!

    November 30, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
  65. Crustylivesinshell

    I love science. That's my comment, thought you all should know.

    November 30, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  66. ngc1300

    A wise man knows when to shut up.

    November 30, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  67. Andrew

    Gah! Elizabeth, it'd be nice if you occasionally link to the abstracts.

    Anyway, observing new things is always cool.

    November 30, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • Josh

      Thanks for the links, Andrew! I find it shoddy practice for journalists not to link to the associated publications, but unfortunately that seems to be the norm when reporting on science.

      November 30, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • binky42

      There is also a preliminary write-up in the arXiv repository @

      November 30, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
      • Andrew

        Ah didn't even think to check the preprint, thanks binky!

        November 30, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
  68. Jon

    There are very few things I would like to hear *less* than "surprise" and "gamma burst" in the same sentence. Imagine all life on the planet simply... gone in the blink of an eye. No warning, no defense.

    November 30, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • Andrew

      I personally am far more scared of 'surprised' and 'colonoscopy' appearing in the same sentence.

      November 30, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
      • O.S. Bird

        I'm with you, buddy.

        November 30, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
  69. MS

    Who cares when Jesus was born – he was a fraud that desperate, weak-minded humans scrambled to (and continue to scramble to) in order to find solace in this big, scary, lonely universe. Jesus is very much dead – physically and spiritually. I'm sure he'd be thrilled if you all just let him rest in peace and quit using his name, and now-corrupted teachings as a battle cry in virtually every war on the planet caused by you blood-lusting Christians are insane.

    November 30, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
    • Josh

      Not that I'm a Christian but what's the relevance of having this debate on an article about gamma ray bursts?

      November 30, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • Twisted

      Wow. You are one clueless individual. I think at the root of our anger is some anxiety over our own state. Something missing perhaps? I hope you find your peace. God bless.

      November 30, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • BCZ

      WOW !! With how perfect everything is in the universe. Super Nova's,planets revolving around a sun.
      The perfect arrangment of how nature works. As well as life itself.
      It takes more to believe that God didn't have a hand in creating everything, than to believe in God.
      Take your athiestic comments and keep them to yourself. And do some serious annalyzing of how perfect all that is created is. Hope you find the Truth. God Bless.

      November 30, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
      • Andrew

        Perfect? Do you have any other universes to compare to? Do you know what established things like the fine structure constant, in order to know how much the basic parameters of the universe can change?

        I mean, considering how, in the entirety of the universe, the ONLY instance of confirmed life we have is on this single planet. To then go saying that the universe is `perfect' because life can form on this tiny rook seems silly. Perfect compared to what? Why do we need god to explain this universe, what non-god based universes can you compare to? What does 'god' do for this universe that things like inflation cannot do in others?

        You can say 'it's too perfect, we need god!' but the difference between science and religion is science requires more than a qualitative analysis.

        November 30, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
    • Wigsnot

      As a Christian, I'm not sure I see the BIG DEAL with this article and Christ or Christmas in general. Its very cool to see our universe in action. To bash God, or an Athiest is typical when it comes to these things in which we do not understand. I guess we will all know who was right when we pass on. Good luck and God bless!

      November 30, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • Ryan

      MS – PROVE that he was a fraud. You people always want us Christians to PROVE that he and God existed and that the Bible is the truth, yet you people fail to PROVE that they didn't exist. That has nothing to do with this cool article. I am a strong Christian but I love science. Articles like this show that the universe is constantly changing, in flux. New things happening all the time, granted, they happened thousands or millions of years ago and we are just now seeing it. But do not bring Christianity in to this, and quit pushing your ideas on everyone else and freaking QUIT calling Christians blood thirsty. That is archaic and shows that you have an extremely closed mind.

      December 1, 2011 at 3:59 am |
      • mdmann

        Wait a minute. You are telling MS to not bring Christianity into this, but MS was responding to someone else who brought Christianity into this. Why aren't you yelling at that person? Christians are frequently trolling science boards to start crap. If you are a Christian who accepts science, then why don't you direct your anger at the person that actually caused the original offense?

        Also, how does one prove that something DOESN'T exist? The burden of proof needs to be on those claiming that something DOES exist, because they should be able to provide such. I could swear up and down that unicorns exist, but until I actually show you proof of one, you will never believe it. If I retorted "Well, you show me that they don't exist!" you'd look at me as if I were crazy.

        Well, I'm giving you that "you must be crazy" look right now.

        December 1, 2011 at 4:26 am |
      • Sean


        Well said sir.

        December 1, 2011 at 10:57 am |
      • mdmann

        Thank you. Some of the comments these people make are absolutely incredible. It's clear that they haven't thought through what they are saying at all. I'd be so incredibly embarrassed to be these people, and I don't understand how they function on a daily basis.

        December 2, 2011 at 12:14 am |
  70. Your Average Atheist

    Jesus wasn't born on December 25th, my friend.

    November 30, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • shiga

      in fact it is an old pegan holiday lol
      i enjoy telling christians on christmas they are actually worshiping a pegan god.

      November 30, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
      • Liz


        November 30, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
      • Twisted

        Yes, originally a pagan holiday. But pretty sure the people celebrating the birth of Christ don't care about the day – rather the event. And if they are celebrating the arrival of their god manifest as man, those prayers aren't be routed to a pagan god instead. Believe what you want, but let people pursue whatever it is that makes them happy, secure and better people.

        November 30, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
      • mdmann

        @Liz I think that was exactly shiga's point. People are ignoramuses and should be told that. He tells them around this time of the year. I just wish he/she would spell pagan properly. Otherwise, the message is right on point.

        November 30, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
      • Sean

        @ Twisted
        Please explain how worshiping a middle eastern bronze age ski fairy on the date of a European pagan holiday in any way makes a person ‘better’.

        December 1, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  71. phoodphite

    This can be done with food coloring, but it's not the easiest design. Oh wait, this is not in 'Eatocracy'?

    November 30, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • David

      AHAHAHA! YES! I Literally read through all the comments and you win best comment on the whole page award. I laughed quite hard. Thank you.

      November 30, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
  72. Bob

    Eleven paragraphs and everyone is now an expert.

    November 30, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
  73. Coincidence...? I think not!

    Jesus's bithday!

    November 30, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
    • Bob

      Except it's NOT Jesus's birthday.

      November 30, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • nicole

      Jesus was born 100,000 to 5,500,000,000 years after this happened.

      November 30, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
      • pm

        Thanks for tyring Nicole, but since the Bible told us that God created the world 8,000 years ago, you have to be wrong.

        December 1, 2011 at 8:57 am |
    • Coincidence, a misunderstood concept.

      there are 365 days per year. The odds of it falling on Dec. 25th are 1/365. All manner of phenomena in the skies occur all the time. It only gets noticed when it falls on a day people mistakenly ascribe a particular significance to, like December 25th. If a meteorite fell on a US naval base on November 7th, for example, it would be briefly covered on local news, and then buried and quickly forgotten. If it happened a month later, December 7th, people would not stop talking about it because it was the sky attacking a US Naval base on December 7th, the same day as the Pearl Harbor attack. This is seen especially with dates of religious significance, because of the lack of rationality that surrounds religion by definition. In short, people have problems understanding the relationship between cause and effect, availability bias convinces people that when things happen to THEM, they happen for a specific reason, even when there IS NO REASON. It's the same flawed thinking that causes people to waste money on that tax on stupid people called "the lottery", in which fools think somehow because someone won the lottery in the past, that means someone "has" to win. It's just not the case, however, with millions of morons squandering their incomes on lottery tickets every day, the odds of someone NOT winning becomes tiny. See the mistake they make? It is possible, in theory, for a pick-six-numbers style lottery to go unclaimed over and over and over, unless a drawing occurs after a period of sales in which every possible sequence of numbers is picked. People for some reason can't understand this. Sad.

      November 30, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
  74. Coincedence...? I think not!

    Jesus's birthday

    November 30, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • pm

      But that would make your Bible wrong now, wouldn't it? Was Jesus born 100,000 or 5.5M years ago?

      December 1, 2011 at 9:03 am |
  75. Chris

    For all their sophisticated theories, it sounds like they're guessing.

    November 30, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
    • AlchemyRose

      Well duh....what do you think science is? Everything in science is an educated guess.
      A wise man knows nothing.

      November 30, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
      • Greg

        Does that make you a wise man?

        November 30, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • Jon

      Pretty much, yeah. Kind of hard to know what exactly goes on *millions* of lightyears away.

      November 30, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • Josh

      A guess is just some bull someone throws out there without thinking about it. These theories at least have some chance of being correct.

      November 30, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • mdmann

      That's only because you don't understand and/or appreciate the amount of knowledge and thought that has to go into one of these "guesses." There is no fault on their part here.

      November 30, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • Sharpshot

      What do you think a THEORY is? unless truly proven and is a LAW of science like the law the gravity, it's a guess. Theories change all the time. Stephen Hawking's theories change all the time as well. One minute its this and hes defending it to the death and a decade later he realizes its not "this" but "that". So unless you don't mind sinking several hundred quadrillion dollars into a space program to shuttle scientists to observe these up close an educated guess or a "theory" is all we have to rely on.

      December 1, 2011 at 12:43 am |
      • Ric H.

        Yes Sharpshot, however the credence we give to theories can be problematic, even retard scince. If you don't/haven't realize/d that Einstein called his theories theories because he knew they were ludicrous, then you are part of the dangerous part of science. The part where theories take on more weight and get more studies and energy and postulations than readily apparent realities. Einstein did not trust his "contemporaries" with much of what he relalized to be true and withheld from them with his word puzzles to prevent mass hysteria and the annihilation of this world and the human race through dangerous science. Granted, Einstein's theories have spawned much in the way of good science that was done correctly but it is disturbing to hear engineers/scientists/physicist regurgitate garbage that makes them look like fools. 'Infinite mass' is impossible since we would be inside of it and not having this discussion about things/events in the universe. Mass moving at or faster than the speed of light is not impossible, we just don't know how to accelerate mass to that speed and it's scary to think that something could be moving that fast towards the earth because we would never see it coming. Time would not cease to exist or stop for something moving at or beyond the speed of light. However our ability to observe anything we were moving directly away from at that speed would change into; a blur, it's prior states, blackness, the anti-shadow created by light reflecting off or emanating from all objects peripheral to our origination point? As soon as any scientist can both explain and prove to me how electrons persist in their exact atomic orbits and yet are so dissimilar from one element to another then we can start with true science and progress to entire molecules and beyond. Right now science is trying to turn measurements, that are extremely limited by both the tools that we have and our distant perspective, into facts about how the celestial bodies in the universe behave, or even worse, into laws. I think they should leave such things to God... who as far as I can tell has been doing an excellent job so far. However, since they seem to love to make nearly irrelevant perspective and measurements into "science" I would be remiss not to solve the great puzzle. The universe will expand until it reverses and then collapses into an extremely unstable yet co-located single mass and that is a simple reality of gravity. Once that mass exists again (and again, and again) the only other thing that exists is the spiritual reality which is eternal. God facilitates both things and for good reasons beyond our comprehension and I would argue, beyond our ability to accurately measure and correctly analize due to our limited perspective and tools. Then God says "Let there be light" because that single mass has swallowed everything, even light, and then God uses sheer force of will to strike that mass and create the universe. Go ahead and mock me, but I guarantee you that I know this to be true. Once you accept this, God might let you watch! God let me watch, even participate, and I am forever changed.

        December 1, 2011 at 5:27 am |
      • mdmann

        Oh boy. You seemed to be cogent at first, then BLAMMO!! The dangerous part of science? I will grant you that when scientific discovery is put into the wrong hands, very bad things can happen. It's not just scientists that can cause the bad to happen, though. As I stated in an earlier post, when the technological fruits of scientific pursuit are put into the hands of people who don't understand or appreciate what went into it an how to use it responsibly, that can also have serious consequences. But you seem to assume that religion is free from such, and I would argue that it is FAR WORSE with religious belief. Your missive here is a prime example.

        You state "The part where theories take on more weight and get more studies and energy and postulations than readily apparent realities" as the dangerous part of science. With this statement, you clearly demonstrate that you don't understand science one bit. I can not think of any scientific theory has ever been accepted as a fact if it has not agreed with observations of the physical world–i.e., "readily apparent realities." However, the tenets of religion that millions of people around the world hold onto are completely devoid of any such relationship to physical reality, and when one asks for proof, the response is that the questioner has no faith or does not have an appropriate relationship with "God" such that they are afforded a glimpse at the proof. This is self-serving nonsense. You are here trying to posit a God-centered cyclical view of the universe, when religion had no such concept (didn't even have the language to discuss such a concept) BEFORE science proposed it! In other words, your view of religion has you not only trying to play catch up with science, but then appropriating scientific ideas as your own and sticking "God" into it to make it fit your dogma. That is dangerous. Too many people fall for this. It's sickening.

        There really is no need for anyone to mock you here, because you've done a very good job of that yourself.

        December 1, 2011 at 5:58 am |
      • dave R

        Exactly... a theory is unproven. Just like the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Santa and God are all theories.

        December 1, 2011 at 7:53 am |
      • pm

        dave they are made up stories not scientific theories. If you're not smart enought to know the difference between Scientific Theory and the definition of the word theory, I don't have time to explain it to you. Just save everyone some time and read and learn before you jump in with an ignorant post.

        December 1, 2011 at 8:44 am |
      • Juniis Gallio

        Um ... no. "Scientific laws" have far smaller impact on science than theories. A law is simply an observation that has (so far) always turned out correct, but it must be of a single phenomena that can be expressed mathematically. THeories are far wider ranging than laws.

        December 1, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
      • dave R

        According to Wikipedia...."The English word theory was derived from a technical term in Ancient Greek philosophy. The word theoria, θεωρία, meant "a looking at, viewing, beholding", and referring to contemplation or speculation, as opposed to action." YOU, pm, are the ignorant one for being narrow minded. A theory is not exclusive to science. "Just save everyone some time and read and learn before you jump in with an ignorant post."

        December 1, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
      • mdmann

        Oh, daveR, pedantry really does not suit you! Of course the word "theory" can be applied in different scenarios. The point is that a scientific theory means something VERY SPECIFIC. This is a common error made by people all over. I used to teach high school physics, and it was a difficult thing to get students to understand that a scientific theory means something different than the way "theory" is used in a non-scientific setting. Your little game of going to Wikipedia to find the definition of the word "theory" doesn't mean much. One of the beauties of the English language is that it is wonderfully nuanced...a word can take on slightly different meanings depending on the context in which it is used. The word "theory" is an example of this. While the concept of a theory is not exclusive to science, a SCIENTIFIC theory is most certainly exclusive to science. It is definitely NOT something that religion has any understanding of or utilizes.

        December 2, 2011 at 12:33 am |


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