OT - "major" space science discovery to be announced Monday

Submitted by superstringer on March 14th, 2014 at 2:14 PM

A big-name US astrophysics research center has a "major discovery" to be announced Monday afternoon:


I scanned some blogs and, aside from jokes (like, "the aliens who stole the Malasian airplane"), there's no consensus of what the announcement will be.  Some of the possibilities:

-- An Earth-like planet -- something around Earth's mass, in the "habitable zone" of a star

-- Confirmation of the "multiverse" theory, which would hugely change our perception of just what "is" the universe

-- The nature of dark matter and/or dark energy, which if true would be like instant-Nobel prize for whomever figured it out.  Although, this particular center isn't likely to be home to that kind of discovery; that's more theoretical than observational.


-- Confirmation of alien life detected via signals.

That last one would be so ridiculously huge, there's a suspicion no one could keep it under wraps.  You'd need it confirmed ten and twenty times over, and by then, someone would spill the beans.  And it probably wouldn't just be a "major discovery" -- it wuold be something like, "OMG THIS IS SO FRICKIN HUGELY IMPORTANT Y'ALL BETTER GET YOUR BUTTS HERE TO LISTEN ON MONDAY."  That's a couple degrees above "major."

Any guesses?



March 14th, 2014 at 2:18 PM ^

Black holes are portals to a tea-and-crumpets house?

The Borealis?

Flippancy aside, I am intrigued.  If I had to guess, I'd say it'd be that they discovered an Earth-like planet somewhere.  They've been building towards that for a while.


March 14th, 2014 at 2:42 PM ^

Given the vast amounts of space, don't you think it makes the most sense to focus searches on area the would have a comparable climate to earth?  After all, life as we know it is only capable of surviving in a climate similar to ours.  Short-sighted yes, but logical to look there first? of course.


March 14th, 2014 at 3:33 PM ^

It assumes life would require liquid water, and the habitable zone is simply the area around a star where liquid water would exist.  It might be 180 degrees F, so uninhabitable by our standards, but it would be habitable by some life form. We are actually barely in the habitable zone for the Sun, as a lot of our water is actually frozen, but it works for us.  

Monocle Smile

March 14th, 2014 at 3:38 PM ^

Maybe for Earth-like life, but it's entirely possible that life in some other form could exist in a radically different environment that would require a different form of sustenance than liquid water. I would not be surprised to find at least some form of primitive organism in our solar system once we properly explore all the moons.


March 14th, 2014 at 2:21 PM ^

I'm not talking about little green men, just bacteria (or something similarly small). 

EDIT: I guess that doens't really fall under the umbrella of astrophysics.


March 14th, 2014 at 2:27 PM ^

  • A planet way out in the Kuiper belt or Oort cloud
  • A very dim star much closer to home than the Centauri system

If it's a "major" announcement that most people will care about, it will have to be "OMG aliens" or something close to home.


March 14th, 2014 at 2:27 PM ^

Don't get me wrong, I like science-y stuff.  But the fact that it wasn't "earth" shattering enough to immediately come out and say what the big deal is and are instead waiting until Monday to have a presentation on it, most likely means that to the average person, the news won't  necessarily be all that interesting or relevant.  In either case, I look forward hearing about what the major discovery is.


March 14th, 2014 at 2:38 PM ^

I LOVE the study but if it's something they have confirmed but are waiting to tell it's likely 1) Nothing the average person will care about OR 2) We're all going to die, dinosaur style. Not joking about either, sadly. Confirmed alien life of equal or greater intelligence would never be released publicly for fear of religious backlash (like omg my life is a lie I'm launching nukes level). Confirmed Earth impact by a major extinction level body would be held off until the last possible second to avoid panic. Etc. So, it's something the average person won't care about. However, I'm excited to hear.