Friday, November 22, 2013

Perhaps they could have used a publishing agent?

What's in a name? Everybody knows T-Rex, but why do Carcharodontosaurians get so little recognition? Perhaps they should call themselves C-Dawgs?

Laugh at the dinosaurs if you like, but do you think you're safe?
Gamma rays bursts aren’t just objects of esoteric interest – they have the potential to harm or even end life on our own planet. Had the GRB 130427A event happened in our own galaxy then Earth may have been very seriously affected, possibly to the level of it being an extinction event for humanity.
Would it be ironic if only martians underground survived? We only did because it happened in another galaxy.


Anonymous said...

T-rex is just the most famous, and my guess is it's due to having a scarier name rather than any logical reason. It was discovered earlier than many of the others, which might have helped.

The Dino you linked (I won't even try to spell that) was smaller than T-rex, though the ancestors of T-rex alive at the time were far smaller still.

For a real nasty, I like the largest known predatory dino, Spinosaurus; 60 feet long, 20 tons.

As for gamma ray burts... only a danger if the axis of rotation is roughly aligned with earth (within about 25 degrees) as the bursts emit from the collapsing star's poles. But, if we did have one within a few thousand light years (as compared to the 3.9 billion of the one seen) we'd sure know it if it hit us.

What's significant here is the duration of the recent burst. 20 hours? Wow. That's a long, long burst. Estimates of gamma ray burst effects from hitting Earth have been based on a duration of that many seconds, not hours.

For example, a 10 second burst from a Wolf-Reyart type star collapse around 7000 light years distant would get rid of most of the ozone layer, but most significantly it would bathe the facing hempisphere of Earth with lethal levels of radiation. It would do so without warning, so there would be no opportunity to take shelter. A 20 hour burst? Goodby biosphere.

How would it affect Martian colonists underground? Depends how deep... at the gamma ray energies measured, I don't think just ten feet or so would help much - that's about the same effective rad shielding than our atmosphere provides.

Hrmmm... Unless they weren't hit directly (such as the event being below their horizon) in which case, unlike Earth, they'd be fine. (As would anyone on earth in a similar position, assuming they could get by without the earth's atmosphere and biosphere). So... guaranteed survival would be a martian colony at each Martian pole; no way could a burst get both.

But, all things considered, I think a person's chance of surviving a bust would be higher on Mars - it's be the collapse of the biosphere that'd be the most lethal thing on Earth.

A gamma ray burst is a leading suspect in at least one of the major extinction events in the geologic record.

Personally, I think there's an easier way to eliminate the risks from gamma-ray bursts; simply require prelicencing and preapproval from the EPA for any form of supernova event, and then deny the permission. See? It's simple if you think like a bureaucrat.

Arizona CJ

ken_anthony said...

You're scaring me CJ... don't think like a bureaucrat. The advantage we have over bureaucrats is they're stupid (although they do out breed us.) The idea of a smart bureaucrat is too terrible to contemplate.

BTW, I'm going to be hitting the road again next wednesday. Should I resend that guest editor request?

Your comment here would have made a great blog post.

Anonymous said...


I've sent e-mail twice to your Yahoo account. I did accept (thank you!) the editor invite. I've got a post in draft mode pending your okay.

Arizona CJ

ken_anthony said...

You got it. You don't need my permission to post. Go for it.