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Bad science reporting

  1. Jun 17, 2011 #1
    There was a thread called "PF'ers Against Bad Science In Journalism", but it's locked. If there is a replacement thread, I couldn't find it, but surely this should be merged into it. See if you can spot the errors in this Reuters report.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/16/us-space-blackhole-idUSTRE75F6W120110616" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 17, 2011 #2
    It fails to mention if the dying star transmitted any images of its weiner.
  4. Jun 17, 2011 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    For one, it won't be a million years before we see this happen again; just for this black hole.

    Not all collapsing stars produce a GRB

    The distance is off by a factor of a billion [miles].

    Black holes are not invisible
  5. Jun 18, 2011 #4
    Those are the scientific errors that I found. In addition, to being scientifically incorrect, the following doesn't say what it means.
    "a strangely long-lasting flash of gamma rays that probably won't be seen again in a million years"
    It should have been:
    "a strangely long-lasting flash of gamma rays the likes of which probably won't be seen again in a million years"

    One more thing. I expect that there are two kinds of black hole, a single collapsed star on the one hand and the millions of stars in a black hole at the center of a galaxy on the other. I also suppose that the probablility of a star falling into a black hole depends sharply upon which kind of black hole it is, but I could be wrong about that. However, if I am correct, then the figure of "once per black hole per million years" in the article is meaningless.

    Finally, there is something strange about this particular gamma-ray burst. It is long lasting. That is the crux of the story. That is probably why we won't see the likes of it for a million years, not because of the probability given in the story. I expect the entire story is boloxed up.
  6. Jun 18, 2011 #5
    Also, the inactive black holes aren't "behaving differently" than their active counterparts, nor do black holes really "suck in" anything. The only difference is what's near the black hole and what it has the opportunity to pull in. I wouldn't say a tornado going across a fallow farm "behaves differently" than a similar tornado going through a suburban neighborhood.
  7. Jun 18, 2011 #6
    I am surprised nobody mentioned this one:
    So we reportedly got gamma ray emissions emitted from the center of a black hole... That would rewrite a few physics books.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  8. Jun 18, 2011 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    I doubt there is anything that we spot after just a few years of looking that we won't see happen somewhere for a million years.

    Haha, good one my_wan.
  9. Jun 18, 2011 #8


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    The link is toast.

    For clarification, is this the event Reuters was referring to ? BTW, once this spring I e-mailed a reporter at this fine establishment, asking him to verify a story dubious data, and never heard back from him. So I am not not a bit surprised it continues to happen at Reuters. They have poor quality control there, at least some of the time, IMHO.

    In any event, this http://arstechnica.com/science/news...s-see-jets-as-black-hole-swallows-a-star.ars"
    Is this the story you referring to with bad reporting ?

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  10. Jun 18, 2011 #9
    No, it was different. It was about a grb that persisted for an unusually long period of time.
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