Good, Bad, and Ugly

Reader reaction to Reuters news

It’s pretty far from here…


Black hole shreds star, sparking gamma ray flash
What makes this even stranger is that the black hole, located in the constellation Draco (The Dragon) about 4 billion light years, or 24 trillion miles (38.62 trillion km) from Earth, was sitting quietly, not eating much, when a star about the mass of our Sun moved into range.

This story contains a very large order of magnitude error.

Four billion light years is certainly not 24 trillion miles but 24 zettamiles, or 23 followed by 21 zeros. If the reporting were correct, then a light year would equal only about 6000 miles! Conversely, twenty-four trillion miles is not 4 billion light years, but 4 light years (the closest black hole to Earth is 1600 light years away).


Numbers like these make my head hurt, but a surprising number of sharp-eyed readers caught our mistake. We corrected it: GBU Editor

An artist’s impression of a growing supermassive black hole located in the early Universe is seen in this NASA handout illustration released on June 15, 2011. Credit: Reuters/NASA/Chandra X-Ray Observatory/A.Hobart/Handout

Will you be paying in euros or dollars?

Not so sunny: trade war looms in solar space

A solar system below 10 kilowatt costs about 3,400 euros in Germany, while a large home solar set-up would sell at more than $70,000 in the United States. How can I compare prices in Germany and the United States when you write “A solar system below 10 kilowatt costs about 3,400 euros in Germany, while a large home solar set-up would sellĀ at more than $70,000 in the United States.” Pedro

Our cross to bear?


Earth bears scars of human destruction: astronaut

The title of the story about the Canadian astronaut who can detect global warming from space has a massive typo.

It should read “Earth BARES Scars of Human Destruction”…..that is, unless you are trying to claim that the Earth BEARS are the reason it is warmer. Pretty sure that the grizzlies didn’t have a hand in it.

Stardust memories…


Stardust evidence points to planet collision

stardust-220.jpgWriting in the Astrophysical Journal, the team at UCLA, Tennessee State University and the California Institute of Technology said it spotted the dust orbiting a star known as BD +20 307, 300 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Aries.

Your story, the title of which is the subject of this e-mail, says that the stardust around a double star system is 300 million light years away. I’m afraid that distance is outside of our galaxy and 100 million light years beyond the next galaxy. Planets have only been detected within our Milky Way galaxy which is only 100 thousand light years across.