In a far flung area of the universe, a star exploded with such force, you could see it with the naked eye. We witnessed the explosion last Friday (3.21.08) but it actually happened 7.5 billion years ago... when the Earth didn't even exist.
Under normal circumstances, the most distant object (a spiral galaxy called M33) that can be seen with the naked eye is about a thousand times closer - 2.9 million light years away. To be able to see such an event without a telescope is just amazing.
Oddly enough, it occurred at close to the same moment (at least in celestial terms) science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke (2001: A Space Odyssey) died.
Clarke was a colorful guy - my favorite quote of his was about extraterrestrial life: “Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”
I only hope that, as his gamma ray burst occurred and he passed into the great unknown, Hal remembered to open the pod bay door...