Science: When Gum Glowed

The journal Archaeology usually concerns itself with down-to-earth matters, but a recent issue contains an appeal that reaches rather far out. In a letter to the magazine, Astronomers John C. Brandt, Stephen P. Maran and Theodore Stecher ask archaeologists for help in determining the age of a giant celestial gas cloud. Known as the Gum Nebula, the cloud has been attracting more than usual attention among astronomers. At its center, some 1,500 light-years away from earth, they have discovered a pulsar —a neutron star that emits regularly spaced radio signals. What possible information could archaeologists offer? Quite a bit, the astronomers...

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