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Has a Biochem Undergrad Solved a Cosmic Radiation Mystery? 156

scibri writes "A few weeks ago, reports of a mysterious spike in carbon-14 levels in Japanese tree rings corresponding to the year 775 intrigued astronomers. Such a spike could only have been caused by a massive supernova or solar flare, but there was no evidence of either of these at that time. Until Jonathon Allen, a biochem undergrad at UC Santa Cruz, Googled it. He found a reference in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to a 'red crucifix' appearing in the sky in 774, and speculates that it could have been a supernova hidden behind a cloud of dust, which could mask the remnants of the exploded star from astronomers today."
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Has a Biochem Undergrad Solved a Cosmic Radiation Mystery?

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  • Re:Pics (Score:5, Funny)

    by game kid ( 805301 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @10:24AM (#40478295) Homepage

    The letters are Elvish, of an ancient mode, but the language is that of Mordor, which I will not utter here.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28, 2012 @10:31AM (#40478367)
    Now this undergrad needs to get funding to track the source article down in it's original form and have it authenticated and cross verified with other ancient works. He will also need several other undergrads to cross check his work, several hours of super computer time or better their own workstations, also the usual funding for a trip (I mean "conference") of three weeks in the Bahamas to discuss all this with his peers after he writes the paper up and has it submitted to the proper journals to have the proper peer review that noone can afford to read in the correct publications. I figure 2 to 3 million dollars should do it. After all this could be the tiny spark of evidence as why reading tree rings and it's tree ring data should not or should be included in figuring out how Global Warming going back then and now, and how the whole normalizing of the tree ring data should be rethought! Micheal Mann should be all over this!
  • by boristdog ( 133725 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @10:31AM (#40478369)

    Man, sciencing is so much easier these days.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28, 2012 @10:39AM (#40478463)

    Number of times this has happened: too many to count.

    That's not very scientific is it?

  • by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @10:52AM (#40478619)
    Hmmm given all the evidence, I'd say it's actually a 49% chance red crucifix = UFO explosion over Japan (since apparently the radiation-stuffed trees were localized to just Japan I guess, although not many trees elsewhere live to be 1300 years old) and 49% chance there's an obvious link between reactor meltdown and the year 775 via a magic quantum portal time teleportation particle traveling effect thing that blasted carbon-14 into the past and 2% chance that we're all living in a computer simulation and some programmer left incorrect calculations in for trees in the year 775 on accident or for lolz or as an easter egg :-P
  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Thursday June 28, 2012 @12:23PM (#40479559)

    And most of these "observations" of weird stuff in the night sky were due to the aurorae.

    As opposed to today, where they are due to alcohol.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28, 2012 @03:19PM (#40483987)

    By the chroniclers of the time. Your religiousness is showing.

    The chroniclers were all monks. Your underwear is showing.

In the realm of scientific observation, luck is granted only to those who are prepared. - Louis Pasteur