Necessity of the interdisciplinary

Click on the image for the Nature article

A strange cosmic “crucifix” in 774 AD, recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, could be explained by the occurrence of a supernova, perhaps rendered unobservable by a dense cloud of gas between Earth and the dying star that scattered all but some of the light. The real story, however, is that of Jonathon Allen, who came up with this idea after listening to a radio talk-show that mentioned a strange spike of C-14 content in three tree-rings in Japan. Because increased C-14 generation in the atmosphere can happen only with incoming cosmic radiation from supernovae or vicious solar flares, the two strange phenomena could be related. Such a development also does well to justify inculcating an interdisciplinary background amongst scientists (such as astronomy and history) because it would simply be hypocritical to assume that the laws of physics apply in one field but not in another.

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Science writer and editor in Bangalore, India.