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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