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Space Sci-Fi

The Arthur C. Clarke Gamma Ray Burst 120

Larry Sessions, a columnist for Earth & Sky, has suggested in his blog that the gamma-ray event whose radiation reached us a few hours before Arthur C. Clarke died, and which occurred 7.5 billion years ago, be named the Clarke Event. The outburst, which produced enough visible light to render it a naked-eye object across half the universe, is officially designated GRB 080319B. What more fitting tribute to Clarke than to associate his name with the greatest bang since the big one? Sessions suggests writing to any astronomers, heads of physics departments, or planetarium operators you know and talking up the proposal.
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The Arthur C. Clarke Gamma Ray Burst

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  • Clarke event, a gamma ray burst? I don't think so. I'm holding out for the lunar obelisk.
    • Old news... (Score:3, Funny)

      by Chapter80 ( 926879 )
      We're just seeing this news on Slashdot now? This hit digg 7.49 Billion years ago.
    • Clarke event, a gamma ray burst? I don't think so. I'm holding out for the lunar obelisk.

      Despite being best known as a SF writer, Clarke was always an engineer first and foremost. So I suspect he'd have been much more interested in having a real, tangible, visible event named for him than having his works of fiction as his contribution to posterity.

      Besides, the lunar obelisk already has a name. It's TMA-1. Maybe not as snappy as "The Clarke Obelisk", but to the cognoscenti, that is definitely it's name. And

  • by explosivejared ( 1186049 ) <hagan.jared@noSPAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @02:58PM (#22861134)
    Just don't name any missions to Europa after him! That would probably upset him.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @02:58PM (#22861138)
    If they find a large cluster of stars in the near future, I'll recommend "The Dick Cheney Clusterfuck."
    • If they find a large cluster of stars in the near future, I'll recommend "The Dick Cheney Clusterfuck."
      Needs to be more specific. Maybe a cluster being torn apart by a massive black hole? One cluster invading another? A cluster of old stars?

      Maybe abbreviate it to "DC Cluster F" to get it accepted by a naming committee.
      • A cluster whose peculiar arrangement is such that, periodically, stars are fired at extremely high velocities straight into a fellow star cluster. That other star cluster should, if possible, be named the Whittington Cluster.
    • by StefanJ ( 88986 ) on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @04:59PM (#22862770) Homepage Journal
      Seriously, what if there's a inhabited planet around one of those stars and they find out what we think of them some day? We might be the ones who end up getting the shock-and-awe treatment, with a Mother Of All Nova Bombs.

      The only collection of objects that might deserve the name Cheney might be a scattering of parasite-ridden coyote droppings. Although given that scavenger dung may have better poll ratings . . .
    • Make sure you use a telescope with a clock drive and a filter. Declination: Undisclosed Right Ascension: Undisclosed
    • If I had been drinking milk it would have spewed out of my nose when I read that. As it was, I laughed out loud! Good one!
  • clarke is well known venerable saint in astronomical and science circles

    if you wanted to call it the eliot spitzer event, or the march madness event, you might have some trouble convincing

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Gat0r30y ( 957941 )

      the eliot spitzer event
      That one's already taken, don't worry though, she got a towel to clean that mess out of her hair.

      On a serious note, I do hope we can name it after Clarke, he has inspired many (including myself). And this seems as fitting a tribute as any.
  • by diesel66 ( 254283 ) * on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @03:00PM (#22861190)

    What more fitting tribute to Clarke than to associate his name with the greatest bang since the big one?
    With all respect due Mr. Clarke and his burst, I would like to point out that Eccentrica Gallumbits [wikipedia.org] is already well know as "the best bang since the big one".

    So long, Mr. Clarke, and thanks for all the fiction...
  • The outburst, whick produced enough visible light to render it a naked-eye object across half the universe

    What would that be in Teraballmers?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Zymergy ( 803632 ) *
      What about Light-Ballmerchairs?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        What about Light-Ballmerchairs?
        First you'd have to find some experimentalists that were courageous enough to want to measure the the speed of a Ballmer thrown chair.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by snl2587 ( 1177409 )

          It's simple! Get a hand-held radar gun, find Steve Ballmer in a public place and ensure there's an easily-throwable chair nearby. Then point to someone and tell Steve that the guy said the iPod was inferior to the Zune. Viola! All that suffers is your conscience.

          • tell Steve that the guy said the iPod was inferior to the Zune.

            Why would Balmer be upset by that? Oh, you meant superior.
            • by Cecil ( 37810 )
              No, he meant to tell Steve Jobs that "the guy" (pointing at Ballmer) said the iPod was inferior.

              Then Ballmer would need to throw a chair to defend himself.
      • by Zymergy ( 803632 ) *
        Correction: BallmerChair-Years.
        (had to consider the units)
    • Nearly two!

      -Peter
  • What more fitting tribute to Clarke than to associate his name with the greatest bang since the big one?

    But Zaphod Beeblebrox already has a name. :)

    • What more fitting tribute to Clarke than to associate his name with the greatest bang since the big one?


      But Zaphod Beeblebrox already has a name. :)

      That's OK, from now on he'll just be known as "Zaphod Beeblebrox, who is associated with the name Clarke"
  • Is Arthur C. Clarke capable of wiping out all life on Earth? If not, I don't think it would be right to equate him with GRB 080319B.
    • Is Arthur C. Clarke capable of wiping out all life on Earth? If not, I don't think it would be right to equate him with GRB 080319B.

      Neither is GRB 080319B since it is too far away. Haley's comet at least comes closer to us than GRB 080319B and it got named after someone. If it did hit Earth it definitely would do some damage too. What does the level of catastrophe associated with a celestial event/object have to do with whether it is named after someone?

  • I may be wrong, but I don't think there is any protocol for giving proper names to GRB events and no international body to recognize such a name - like the IAU does with minor planets. It's a nice gesture put probably not something that would end up in common usage...
    • Unless we were to make it a meme...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Gamma-ray bursts are given catalogue names based on the date they were discovered. There is no mechanism for naming bursts beyond that. Occasionally a burst is given an informal name. For example, one burst is sometimes called the Superbowl burst because it went off during the Superbowl (which is the name of an annual championship US football game). However, there is nothing official about these names, and the IAU does not recognize them. I like the idea of informally naming GRB 080319B after Sir
  • Overdoing it (Score:5, Informative)

    by isomeme ( 177414 ) <cdberry@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @03:26PM (#22861526) Homepage Journal
    What, having the single most valuable orbit type [wikipedia.org] named after him isn't enough? The orbit has the further advantage of actually being his idea.
    • Re:Overdoing it (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jonathunder ( 105885 ) on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @03:35PM (#22861624) Homepage
      It wasn't his idea, though he did popularize it in a 1945 story. Herman Potocnik published a paper on geosynchronous satellites for communication in 1928.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by isomeme ( 177414 )
        It wasn't a story; it was a technical article, I believe for the magazine Wireless World.
      • by Mista2 ( 1093071 )
        Just like he didn't invent "Space Elevators" but did popularise them with Fountains of Paradise. I rather preferred the idea of the first "O'Neill" style space colony or hotel to be built being called "Clarke County" 8)
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I've read some of Clarke's books, but I never read any of Mr. Geostationary's books. I'll look for him in the Gs, the next time I'm at the bookstore.
    • But it's a good name given the work he put into the theory of geostationary satellites. However, I would like to make a suggestion: that where a marker, be it physical or electronic, is clearly designed with the intent of indicating the presence of alien life in the galaxy, the information type be measured in a ten-point scale of Clarkes. (A basic signal is one Clarke, up to a sufficiently advanced signal that makes it indistinguishable from magic, which would be ten Clarkes. In honour of Arthur C. Clarke's
  • by moore.dustin ( 942289 ) on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @03:32PM (#22861576) Homepage
    With all due respect, should we not remember him by naming something after him that itself will be remembered? I mean really, this Gamma Ray Burst is not going to be a topic for many people in even a couple weeks, let alone several years from now. We remember Kennedy via the Kennedy Space Center, Hawking gets Hawking Radiation, Einstein/Galileo has some satellites and the examples are really endless here. Why not name something after him which will carry his namesake more actively throughout the future. Of course this is not the only thing that will bear his name, but out of all the possibilities people want to spend their effort on this one? I'd like to see that enthusiasm directed towards something better than getting a GRB event named after him. Cool? Maybe. Lasting? No.
    • by yuna49 ( 905461 )
      I don't disagree with this point of view, but the gamma ray burst is actually quite appropriate for the man who wrote, The Star, which received the Hugo for best short story in 1956. It remains one of the most memorable stories by Clarke that I've ever read.
    • by VJ42 ( 860241 ) *
      He already has one of those, it's the Clarke orbit [wikipedia.org] named because he came up with the idea.
    • by reverseengineer ( 580922 ) on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @04:18PM (#22862214)
      In terms of more lasting recognition for Arthur C. Clarke, he already has asteroid 4923 Clarke, a dinosaur, Serendipaceratops arthurcclarkei, Clarke orbits (an IAU recognized term for geostationary orbit), , a bunch of space stuff has already been named for his Odyssey works, and if we ever build a space elevator, it's likely his name will be connected in some way with that. The man has already been much honored, and deservedly so.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by JoeMerchant ( 803320 )
      If this GRB is as rare as it appears to be, it will likely serve as a reference magnitude for other GRBs observed in the future (i.e., today's burst was the largest ever - 1.3x the magnitude of the Clarke Event observed in 2008, etc.)

      As an aside, I'm surprised no comments (that I've read) follow this line of logic:

      Of course Clarke's death didn't cause the burst, but wouldn't it be remarkable if somehow, even if by seeming coincidence, the burst caused his death?

      • If this GRB is as rare as it appears to be, it will likely serve as a reference magnitude for other GRBs observed in the future (i.e., today's burst was the largest ever - 1.3x the magnitude of the Clarke Event observed in 2008, etc.)

        "If" that is true then it would be fine. Really, it is fine either way; my quarrel is with the effort being directed towards this objective when surely there are others far better. Provided what you said ends up being true, then chalk it up as another fitting thing baring his namesake. We can add it to the list others have replied with above me; but it still doesn't change the fact that the effort to remember him could focus its attention on something much more memorable for those of use still around.

      • because it's so obvious that you could be mod'ed redundant for mentioning it the first time in the thread
    • He's an author right? He already has his works which will live beyond his death.
      • Oh yes, they will.
        I have enjoyed, and have been inspired by, his many excellent stories.
        I will tell my children about them, and I believe they will read them and feel the same about them.
         
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I agree that it's not clear that this GRB will be that significant of an outlier after a decade or so of observations. Three of the four intrinsically brightest events ever observed occurred in the last 3 years and were discovered by Swift (050904, 061007 and 080319B which is this one). This one is also not an order of magnitude brighter (intrinsically) than any other GRB - more like a factor of 2 (the next brightest was 050904 which in turn was a factor of ~2 brighter than the third most luminous GRB, see
    • by rapoZa ( 810020 )
      How about the http://www.clarksvillage.co.uk/ [clarksvillage.co.uk] Clarkes Village Outlet Shopping Centre in Street, Somerset?
  • The Star (Score:4, Funny)

    by Guy Harris ( 3803 ) <guy@alum.mit.edu> on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @03:46PM (#22861772)

    An explosive event in space named after Clarke? Oh, great.... [lucis.net]

  • This would make.
    • Would you like that the massive gamma burst to be named after Sir Arthur C. Clarke?
      ( ) Hell yes!
      ( ) Yes
      ( ) No
      ( ) Don't really care
      ( ) It's up to Cowboy Neal
  • No doubt Larry had read Clarke's short story "The Star" [wikipedia.org].
  • Due to his prediction of geosynchronous communications satelites, this type of orbit is already named after him.
  • by hcdejong ( 561314 ) <hobbes@@@xmsnet...nl> on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @04:10PM (#22862086)
    How about making sure Clarke Orbit becomes the common name for the geostationary orbit?
    • by Loki P ( 1170771 )
      >How about making sure Clarke Orbit becomes the common name for the geostationary orbit?

      No, how about making sure geostationary orbit is the common name for the geostationary orbit.

      It's descriptive, it makes sense, it's already the common name for it. Why change it?

      An issue I've always had with scientific and mathematical theorems is the tendency of scientists to name them after themselves, or after some reason which ultimately sheds little light on the underlying nature of the system. I mean, why? It

  • Shouldn't that be "greatest *observed* bang since the big one?" /nitpick
    • by Tuoqui ( 1091447 )
      The big one wasnt observed. At least not directly.
      • by Urkki ( 668283 )
        Even though the radiation from the start of "the big one" isn't observed, the "fireball" (ie. CMBR) can still be seen, even though very faintly. And I'd argue that having a direct line of sight to a fireball of any explosion is directly observing that explosion.
  • How do we know this gamma ray burst isn't what finally did him in?
  • Why God? (Score:4, Funny)

    by STrinity ( 723872 ) on Tuesday March 25, 2008 @04:54PM (#22862720) Homepage
    There were so many stars you could have used. What was the need to give those people to the fire, so the symbol of their passing might shine above Sri Lanka?
    • LOL at this being modded troll!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by STrinity ( 723872 )
      Whoever modded me a troll should immediately lose all geek cred. My post was word-for-word from a Clarke story, except I changed Bethleham to Sri Lanka.
    • What the hell is the person that modded this a troll even doing in this article?

      This is not a troll, unless you have no geek cred whatsoever. It's a small segment from one of the best sci-fi short stories you'll read.

      I'm as anti-religion as the next nerd, but just because a post mentions a god, you can't immediately presume it to be trolling.

      Besides, it's a science-fiction article, if there was ever going to be a perfectly suitable place to make reference to gods, it's here.
  • Any gamma-ray burst sufficiently powerful enough to be named after Clarke is, to me, indistinguishable from magic.

  • "to associate his name with the greatest bang since the big one?..." I thought Zaphod had that title.
  • I'm not impressed with the supposed uniqueness of this event. We've had the ability to detect GRBs for only about 10 years and initially that ability was pretty crude. To make a big deal of this being the biggest one "ever" is quite presumptuous.

    Reminds me of when Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with Jupiter. Levy said (during the live TV coverage) that it was a once-in-a-hundred-million-year (I forget the exact number, but it was big) event. What a remarkable coincidence that it happened just a handful of
  • Clarke merits something more substantial and permanent. I'm advocating renaming Europa as Clarke's Moon.

    Re: "the greatest bang since the big one..." Seems unlikely. It's only the biggest one since we've been watching.
  • There were actually *four*, a new record for Swift for bursts in a single day. I believe a more apt reference is 'The Nine Billion Names of God'; see 'A Cosmic Coincidence' at http://www.clarkefoundation.org
  • Hey, that's Eccentrica Gallumbits!!!

    ZWithaPGGB=Zaphod With A Pan Galactic Gargleblaster. Imagine a very soused two headed guy wandering around a bar having conversations with all and sundry.
  • > Larry Sessions, a columnist for Earth & Sky, has suggested in his blog that the gamma-ray
    > event whose radiation reached us a few hours before Arthur C. Clarke died, and which
    > occurred 7.5 billion years ago, be named the Clarke Event.

    However, the discoverer of the burst quickly responded, saying "That's a nice thought, but I was planning on naming it the Anne Hathaway Event in hopes of getting some premium ass."
  • ... He just went Home!"

    K [Men in Black]


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