Monday Sep 07, 2009

Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) = a bad day somewhere...

The worldwide economic downturn that accelerated in the year 2008 and 2009 certainly has caused problems for everyone.  The situation was caused by people and the remedy lies with people .  While the majority of people on Earth focus on the numerous everyday issues of our only known habitable planet, there are other people who think about problems beyond Earth.  Think beyond social, personal, government, economic, humanitarian, business and climate issues and try to solve the unknowns of the universe.

Astrophysicists think about problems that extend into the known universe.  I specifically say known universe because we do not fully know or understand what we don't know. Some questions may seem like nonsense, especially as applied to Earth. 

Imagine harnessing the energy of 1 single star over its lifetime.  How many stars are in the known universe? It's billions upon billions.  How many stars are within a single galaxy?  It's billions.  How many galaxys are in the known universe.  It's billions.  That's a huge amount of energy!  In fact the energy of 1 star is huge.  To comprehend what we know today about the universe can make the common persons head hurt.  To try to understand what we do not know or understand about the known universe makes all astrophysicists heads hurt every day.

Speaking of energy there is a distant binary star (WR104 - see video clip above) 8000 light years away that will eventually go supernova when the star cores collapse.  If events align right a gamma ray burst can result which is the known mother of all luminous electromagnetic events in the universe.  In addition it appears that one end of the gamma ray burst beam, which will exit from the polar ends of the rotating star could be pointing directly at Earth. 

Perfect alignment of two large objects 8000 light years away with a narrow beam of 12 degrees in an expanding universe is possible, but I feel that issues such as global warming are better near term problems to address.

Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

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The blog of Bob Porras - Vice President, Data, Availability, Scalability & HPC for Sun Microsystems, Inc.

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