From the discovery of gravitational movements to a promising male contraceptive, it was a groundbreaking time for science
It came from beyond the Large Magellanic Cloud. The signal, a mere 20 milliseconds long, captured the moment when two black hole slammed together a devastation that mailed gurgles through spacetime and onwards to Earth, where they formed instruments chirp and scientists ovation. We have seen gravitational motions, said David Reitze of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory( Ligo ). We did it.
The announcement graded as the physics uncovering of its first year, establishing Einsteins century-old speculation of gravitation and putting the Ligo team on course for a Nobel. But the real excitement is yet to come. For the first quarter of a million years, the cosmos was obscured from astronomers. Now scientists can construct gravitational wave observatories and, with them, look back to the birth of the universe. We can consider the moment of creation.
It wasnt the only day astronomers celebrated in 2016. In August, the European Southern Observatory in the Chilean desert considered changes in the flare “re coming out” Proxima Centauri, the whiz nearest to the sunbathe. An Earth-sized planet was gathering the ruby-red dwarf around. What stimulated astronomers was that the newly discovered macrocosm lay in the stars habitable area, that Goldilocks region of space where the temperature is right for liquid sea, and together with liquid, perhaps life. The discovery drew the question, Are we alone? to our cosmic doorstep and with it the realisation that such planets are not rare.
Stephen Hawking is convinced that aliens are out there, but hes cautious of inviting them over. In his 2016 cinema, Stephen Hawkings Favourite Lieu, he warned that fulfilling up with a technically advanced cluster of cosmic hooligans might do for humanity what Christopher Columbus did for the Native Americans.
Hawking is equally suspicious of neural networks. Yes, superintelligent machines might solve our greatest defies, but not if they erase us out instead. Fortunately, that threat is still a remote one.