Today In Fact, 19 March

Scoffing at science (fiction). Today in 2008, Arthur C. Clark, the science fiction author and originator of that movie “2001: Space Odyssey” died. Clark also came up with the idea of the space elevator.

A few hours before his death, a light was seen in the sky. It was the brightest object in the night sky for around a minute and could be clearly seen with the naked eye. It was a gamma ray explosion called GRB 080319B which had occurred some seven and half billion light years away and had taken about half the age of the universe to reach earth.

Such distances and timeline would have been scoffed at by Charles Johnson the populariser of the Flat Earth Society if he had still been alive. Johnson had died this day some seven year earlier in 2001. Johnson had run the Flat Earth Society from his home in California for many years and believed that the earth was a flat disc like the UN logo. Flat earthers believed the earth was only a few thousand years old and that the sun was a just 52 Kilometres wide and was only a few thousand kilometres above the earth.

– Doug Racionzer (see more of these fast facts in