Friday, January 21, 2011

THIS COULD DRIVE THEM TOTALLY ROUND THE TWIST














The idea that a second sun just might show up in the sky in 2012 fills me with a really unpleasant delight. A second sun on top of all the other dire predictions of apocalypse in December of next year – from the Mayans to Terence McKenna – could knock fundamentalists of all kinds clean off their plinths, and the world of humanity might even collapse in an orgy of irrational superstition. (I mean, imagine Sarah Palin running for President and then a second sun shows up. Boggle is hardly the word.) Our pal Wendy sent over the story. The only problem is that this Huffpo report was lifted from news.com.au, and the tabloid writer seemed to be having major problems understanding exactly what he or she was being told.

“Earth could be getting a second sun, at least temporarily. Dr. Brad Carter, Senior Lecturer of Physics at the University of Southern Queensland, outlined the scenario to news.com.au. Betelgeuse, one of the night sky's brightest stars, is losing mass, indicating it is collapsing. It could run out of fuel and go super-nova at any time. When that happens, for at least a few weeks, we'd see a second sun, Carter says. There may also be no night during that timeframe. The Star Wars-esque scenario could happen by 2012, Carter says... or it could take longer. The explosion could also cause a neutron star or result in the formation of a black hole 1300 light years from Earth. But doomsday sayers should be careful about speculation on this one. If the star does go super-nova, Earth will be showered with harmless particles, according to Carter. "They will flood through the Earth and bizarrely enough, even though the supernova we see visually will light up the night sky, 99 per cent of the energy in the supernova is released in these particles that will come through our bodies and through the Earth with absolutely no harm whatsoever." In fact, a neutrino shower could be beneficial to Earth. According to Carter this "star stuff" makes up the universe. "It literally makes things like gold, silver - all the heavy elements - even things like uranium....a star like Betelgeuse is instantly forming for us all sorts of heavy elements and atoms that our own Earth and our own bodies have from long past supernovi."

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3 comments:

Miq-Tak said...

Given it's 1,300 light years away, she really means that Betelgeuse MAY have gone nova as long as 1,298 years ago.

Ed said...

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/01/21/betelgeuse-explode-scientists-say/

Urgh. How to choose between Fox and some unknown tabloid. Also, she gets the distance from us wrong.

Maggie M'Gill said...

Mick's (perfectly fairly) reprinting some awful tosh - look at http://stars.astro.illinois.edu/sow/betelgeuse.html for something more sensible.

I hate it when people pretend they're clued about a subject and don't know a darned thing.