Universe Commemorates Arthur C. Clarke’s Passing

3 comments March 22nd, 2008at 02:05pm Posted by Eli

This is pretty incredible timing:

NASA has detected the brightest cosmic explosion ever recorded — a massive burst of energy 7.5 billion light years away that could be seen with the naked eye from Earth, the space agency said.

The explosion, a gamma ray burst older than Earth itself, was monitored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Swift satellite and shattered the record for the most distant object seen without visual aid.

“No other known object or type of explosion could be seen by the naked eye at such an immense distance,” said Swift team member Stephen Holland of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

“If someone just happened to be looking at the right place at the right time, they saw the most distant object ever seen by human eyes without optical aid.”

Gamma ray bursts are among the most violent phenomenon produced in the universe. NASA described them as the most luminous explosions since the “Big Bang.”


The explosion seen Wednesday “blows away every gamma ray burst we’ve seen so far,” said Neil Gehrels of Goddard Space Flight Center.

Gamma ray bursts occur when huge stars use up all their fuel and their core collapses, forming black holes or neutron stars that release bursts of gamma rays, ejecting particles into space at nearly the speed of light and generating afterglows.

The burst, named GRB 080319B, was among a record four bursts detected by Swift on Wednesday, the same day of the death of prolific science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke who wrote “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

“Coincidentally, the passing of Arthur C. Clarke seems to have set the universe ablaze with gamma ray bursts,” said Swift team member Judith Racusin of Penn State University.

Even the universe mourns Arthur C. Clarke’s death, by catastrophically blowing up four stars at just the right time so their gamma rays would reach Earth on the same day Clarke died.  That is a lot awesome.

Entry Filed under: Books,Coolness,Science


  • 1. Michael  |  March 22nd, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Advanced temporal technology is indistinguishable from magic.

  • 2. Michael  |  March 22nd, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    The first fundamental force is entanglement, everything else derives.

  • 3. Michael  |  March 23rd, 2008 at 3:58 am

    An Arthur C. Clarke reading selection.

    If you prefer, the Hitchhiker’s Guide metaphor is just as good. :)

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