back to article America's democracy on the brink, Brexit looming, climate crashing... when better to get the first fast radio burst from our own galaxy?

A fast radio burst, a mysterious type of powerful electromagnetic energy poorly understood by scientists, has been spotted in our own galaxy for the first time. It's been traced to a magnetar, an exotic form of neutron star with an incredibly strong magnetic field. Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are usually extragalactic radio …

  1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
    Happy

    In these days of the coming apocalypse, nothing like a neutron star to take our minds of the horrors.

    1. Christopher Reeve's Horse

      Re:

      Even a neutron star fails to be the densest thing in the news this week!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not even close

    It's not even a close race, even with the all voter suppression, all the Republican dirty tricks, Trump still lost. You can tell they didn't suppress enough votes or do enough voter suppression tricks. If they hadn't closed all those polling stations, stops mail-in ballots, blocked late-arriving mail-in ballots and got DeJoy to make ballots arrive late in Democrat districts, closed ballot drop stations, challenged drive in voting, tried to suppress millions of votes by 40+ lawsuits seeking to block those people's votes from being counted....

    Without the tricks, Trump would have lost by an insane amount.

    Putin has passed a law giving himself immunity from prosecution, and is proposing to 'step down due to illness'. But his illness is 'sudden onset coup flop', and he never steps down, he just pretends to step down. If Putin knows they lost, then so does Trump, and it means they can't figure out anything they can cook up to turn this loss into a win.

    Don Jr and Hannity (i.e. Trump's mouth piece) are demanding a do-over. So they can suppress more of the votes counted to turn a loss into a win next time.

    It's how it works, Putin puppets win by just over 50% to make it look plausible. They do *just*enough* election rigging and no more. If they miscalculate the amount, then they lose. Putin cancels the election claiming 'fraud', as Trump is trying to do here.

    Republicans are noticeably silent as they cannot figure out how to make this into a win.

    Kavanaugh really cannot figure out how to turn "we the people" into "we the people, but not you, you you or you".

    The military need to side with the people. The police need to side with the people. The government needs to side with the people. Democracy prevails, the people win.

    Unite around the mutual hatred for the attacks Russia did to democracy. Republicans can redeem themselves by a sudden found patriotic loyalty that despises all those lies that those damn Russians pumped into Fox News. Even if they were part of the lies.

    Trump has lost. Republicans need to follow Putin's lead, one last time, and abandon Trump.

    1. You aint sin me, roit Silver badge
      Alien

      Earthling, your petty arguments are a distraction

      While you bicker over votes, the invasion of your galaxy has already started...

      1. illiad

        Re: Earthling, your petty arguments are a distraction

        yes, come and sell us FTL travel !!!! :D :D

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Happy

        Re: Earthling, your petty arguments are a distraction

        While you bicker over votes, the invasion of your galaxy has already started...

        Indeed. Hence the encrypted firmware update transmitted from the SGR 1935+2154 command ship to its orange android.

    2. tfb Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Not even close

      I'm on your side. But, please, can't we keep politics out of the comments on science articles? I read the science articles because I want to think about science not about the shittiness which is engulfing the world. There are many, many places where that discussion can be had, and many, many things we should be doing to fight the slide into something horrible. But ... not here, please?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not even close

        So don't read what I said. I get that you wish others to not be able to read it.

        Article headline author clearly wants to talk about what's happening in the USA but is stuck with another EM burst article. Do you also want them gone too?

        1. tfb Silver badge
          Pirate

          Re: Not even close

          Please do not assume you know what I think or assume that I'm some kind of Trump sympathiser (you could just have looked at my comment history). For the record I think that if Trump steals this election the democracy in the US is over, and what will be replacing it is either fascism or something close to it. And that's the least of our problems – the world came back from fascism before and it can do it again, at the cost of a few million lives perhaps – but if Trump wins nothing gets done about climate change, and the window for that is closing fast, and we can't come back from that: if we do nothing we fall over path-dependencies and then it's too late and we're in for hundreds or thousands of years of crap. Trump winning will mean billions of humans – most not yet born – will die.

          Trust me, I really, really, do not want Trump to win, either legitimately (not going to happen) or illegitimately (still disturbingly likely).

          But I'm also a scientist, and a programmer, and various other things. And I'd like the comments on an article about FRBs to be ... about FRBs, and the comments on an article about some interesting programming language to be about that interesting programming language.

          And that doesn't mean I'm trying to stop other people (or myself) reading about politics (or, you know, doing something about it rather than posting in some obscure comments section). I would like to feel sorry that you think so, but actually I find that so offensive that I'm not.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not even close

            Lots of words, I choose not to read. See how simple it is to not read something you don't want to?!

            Nobody makes you read anything. The articles author phrased the title to say what's on their mind, take it up with them. Do not play the victim of a comment nobody made you read.

            1. tfb Silver badge
              Terminator

              Re: Not even close

              Because it has never been the case that discussion forums have been destroyed by trolls turning up with off-topic rants, refusing to read responses to them, and driving away the original people, has it? Because people can 'just ignore the comments they don't want to read'. Oh, yes, sorry, I made a mistake: it has very often been the case, even in forums with really sophisticated filtering tools. Very often it's done by, you know, trump supporters. Well done for sinking to their level, because that will fix the problems which ail us, won't it?

        2. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

          Re: Not even close

          "Article headline author clearly wants to talk about what's happening in the USA but is stuck with another EM burst article. Do you also want them gone too?"

          Honestly, yeah the headline was a bit too political. Not as much as your comment, but still a bit too much.

          Let's keep the science pages for science. Thank you.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not even close

            "Honestly, yeah the headline was a bit too political."

            Take it up with Katyanna, tell her science articles must be about science, not democracy/uk separatism or environment. I'm sure she'll read your email and obey it to the same extent that I will.

            https://www.theregister.com/Author/Email/Katyanna-Quach

            I'm surprised nobody noticed that the margin of votes is only a few thousand, and yet DeJoy managed to misplace 300,000 mail-in ballots. With a slant towards swing states.

            Trump lost big big big time, Gerrymandering, weighted electoral college maps, hundreds of thousands of votes diverted and he still lost. There's no recovering from a Trump doing the "I lost, it was a fixup, I'm the victim, revenge!".

            Not even a spherical cow could save him.

        3. HildyJ Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Not even close

          I find the magnetar's outburst relevant. Your's, not so much.

          If you're going to troll, at least don't hide behind anonymity.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not even close.. let me guess, not an American...

      As a matter of interest are you a US citizen and have you lived you lived in the US all / most of your life?

      If yes, and you live in a big city / state, care to discuss the political minutiae of exactly how day to day politics really works both at election time and the rest of the political calendar? Bet you hav'nt a clue how it actually works. In real life. In my neck of the woods informed discussion is about the interesting fact that two of the three most important Democrats at the moment both have very direct political connections (their political mentors) to the main political players in the lead up to the Jonestown Massacre. The anniversary of which is in a few weeks time. It took more than 30 years for the families of all those many hundreds of murdered poor black people to get even a small memorial built in their memory. Hidden in a obscure graveyard. Too many important politicians needed the truth about their direct involvement in that massacre forgotten.

      Not an American? Then mind your own f*cking business. The phrase not even wrong comes to mind. Ever hear Americans try to talk about the details of UK or European politics? Getting it totally wrong, both the big stuff and the small stuff. Sounding like clueless t*ssers. That exactly what your little diatribe sounds like. The ramblings of a clueless t*sser.

      In case you are wondering I still have my first black passport from five decades ago. And my current burgundy one. And am the very proud bearer of a blue passport too. So yes, I probably have forgotten more about British and European politics than you could ever hope to know. Or even knew existed.

      What is going on at the moment in the US is just a mash up of the elections of 1896, 1972, 1984 and 2000, with a big chunk of 1876 thrown in. So nothing new to those of us who know our US political history. And who also actually remember the elections of 2000, 1984 and 1972..

      To those of us who lived in the US in the Reagan years there was nothing new about the last four years. Seen and heard it all before. Including all the total sh*te in the US/UK/ European media. It was exactly the same during the Reagan years. Exactly the same. And we know how that turned out in the end. He was right and all the rabid foaming at the mouth critics turned out to be wrong..

      See no reason why it wont be the same this time around either.

      1. Harry Kiri

        Re: Not even close.. let me guess, not an American...

        "Not an American? Then mind your own f*cking business."

        Correct - this is not an American web-site - it's quite worldly. You have a lot of anger, some of which is understandable, but rant somewhere relevant or cool off as you're doing no-one any favours.

        On a more relevant note, if anyone is interested in magnetars this is quite an entertaining 15 min explanation (I have no connection to this, I just enjoy his videos).

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8sCG0rJitI

    4. mr.K

      Re: Not even close

      First time I have logged on just to downvote somebody.

      Buddy, you are off-topic. No, the topic is not an invite to discuss brexit or US elections, it is humour. And when you get all this flak and down-votes and you clearly understand it by going AC, just let it go and fight your battle somewhere else. This is the Internet, there is room for your opinions somewhere.

  3. MJB7

    Mistake in article?

    The article says "If it is, indeed, in the closer range to Earth,". Should that be "further range from Earth"? The further away the source is, the more total energy is needed to produced the observed brightness here. Given the uncertainty in the distance is about x3, the uncertainty in the total energy output is approximately x10, which is somewhat higher than most astronomers like (though cosmologists call it "very precise").

    1. tfb Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Mistake in article?

      No, it's the closer range in the thing the article was quoting. I think the point is that they're after a lower bound for the amount of energy in the event, not an upper bound, perhaps because this will help say that extragalactic FRBs must involve at least a given amount of energy? Not sure, but the article is definitely quoting the source correctly.

  4. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Oh...

    When the next one comes from the vicinity of the far side of the moon then we know we'll be in trouble...

    1. tfb Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Oh...

      I'm trying to work out if there's enough energy in these things that the Moon won't shield us. I think there isn't and we'd be OK. Although obviously only OK until the aliens come round the side of it and point their giant radio canon at us directly.

      1. You aint sin me, roit Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Oh...

        An x-ray canon outputting the equivalent energy our sun produces in a month...

        We're going to need a bigger moon!

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Oh...

        The sun turns 2*10^11 tons of matter into energy a month. The moon is only 400 million times heavier than that. I dont think it would be much of a shield to that kind of energy in a millisecond or so. Trinity only converter 0.9 of a gram of matter into energy so that would be at leasy 10^13 times the size so I'm sure we'd notice it for a few seconds anyway. We should rename 10^13 the billiard in memory!

        1. DoctorNine

          Re: Oh...

          (Looks on approvingly as Tom whips out his turgid maths and flops them around like a boss.)

          Oh... Oh my...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Oh...

          Too lazy to read the article, but is it assumed that the X-rays and FRBs are sent out equally in all directions, or that they are tightly focussed in one direction which we just happened to intercept?

  5. tfb Silver badge
    Boffin

    arXiv preprints

    It looks as if there are preprints of the two Nature papers here and here. Obviously these may differ from the final versions, but they are not paywalled.

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Ah, to be a scientist

    "We've studied magnetars in our galaxy for decades, while FRBs are an extragalactic phenomenon whose origins have been a mystery. This event shows that the two phenomena are likely connected,

    That is why I could never be scientist. To me, this event patently demonstrates beyond any doubt that they are connected. But to a boffin, no, you can't say that until the paper is published and peer reviewed.

  7. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Happy

    Scientists 5: Politicians 2 - a clear victory!

    "If it is, indeed, in the closer range to Earth, scientists reckon the total X-ray energy generated during its outburst is equivalent to the same amount of energy produced by the Sun over a month."

    Remember that e=mc2 ... so what happened, was it an internal event or did something circle and then strike the magnetar? Thanks El Reg for the story, it's making me think about incredible events out there in the universe! What would happen if a black hole approached a magnetar ... which one would survive or would we get something completely different? Sure, there's no way to actually know but it's fascinating to think about.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Scientists 5: Politicians 2 - a clear victory!

      Imagine a black hole many times the size of the visible universe. Right next to us. How would you detect it?

      Could we see the blackness? No, because space is stretched out so there is no direction towards the black hole*

      Could we see the spiralling into the black hole? No, because we assume light travels in a straight line, we cannot see the curve.

      The unevenness of space? Again no, our speed of light would change the same as the matter we compare it against. Distorted space affects both. It appears to be even in all directions because its the same distortion as the matter we measure it against for any given direction.

      Before the comment police descend on us, I should point out the article mentions "super massive black hole" and yet they're really not. All the black holes we note are tiny and far away.

      * Well apart from a dot, a point at which the stretching is one way round the black hole and flips to the other way around.

      1. tfb Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Scientists 5: Politicians 2 - a clear victory!

        It depends on what you mean by 'right next to us', but spacetime would be severely non-isotropic, and in particular things like the CMB would not be anywhere near isotropic: there would be a fucking enormous dipole moment. There isn't.

  8. Efer Brick

    That is some serious WiFi

    Where are all the 5g'tards now eh?

  9. tonique
    Mushroom

    I'm sorry. I just restarted my backup server.

    1. TimMaher Silver badge
      Joke

      Backup server

      I assume it is in a very safe, remote, location.

      1. tonique

        Re: Backup server

        Yes it is. I had to do a resync and transferred more data than anticipated.

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