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No. 88: Jul-Aug 1993

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Blasted By A Beam Weapon On The Edge Of Space

January 31, 1993. Aboard NASA's Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. This satellite detected a gammaray burst containing ten times more energy than any other burst ever observed. It was one hundred times stronger than any known constant source of gamma rays. Even so, careful searches with ground-based telescopes found nothing visible in the direction of the burst. Scientist B. Dingus remarked:

"It's clear that it is unique event that liberates more energy in a few seconds than any other process in the Universe."

Gamma-ray bursts remain one of the outstanding mysteries of astronomy. The depth of the mystery is underscored by the belief that the gamma rays must be confined to a narrow beam by their sources, rather than being emitted in all directions. No one knows how this focussing might be accomplished. Also, since we detect only those bursts that happen to be aimed at the earth (at a rate of about one per day), there should be a colossal number of bursts that we are unaware of. Yet, we cannot divine what these common, immensely powerful energy sources are.

(Kiernan, Vincent; "Blasted by a Beam Weapon on the Edge of Space," New Scientist, p. 13, May 8, 1993.)

From Science Frontiers #88, JUL-AUG 1993. 1993-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987