Rumors of a Massive Physics Discovery Swirl

'Probably a shoo-in for this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2016 3:03 PM CST
Scientists may have discovered gravitational waves, which were predicted by Albert Einstein more than 100 years ago but never observed.   (AP Photo/File)

(Newser) – Rarely does a tweet not involving a Kardashian or a cat stir up such a swell of excitement. On Monday, physicist Lawrence Krauss tweeted that scientists may have discovered gravitational waves, phenomena first predicted by Albert Einstein more than 100 years ago but never observed, Gizmodo reports. "If true … it would probably be a shoo-in for this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics," the blog states. According to Discovery, gravitational waves—ripples in space-time—are believed to be created by things like black holes, supernovas, and "galactic mergers." The Washington Post reports their discovery could help scientists study black holes and other cosmic curiosities. "We would have a new window on the universe,” Krauss tells the Guardian. “Gravitational waves are generated in the most exotic, strange locations in nature."

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Gizmodo reports the official word out of LIGO—the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory—is that it's still analyzing data and has nothing to report at this time. And Krauss tells the Guardian he's only 60% positive the rumors are true. He tells the Post he only tweeted about the possible discovery because he's heard other physicists discussing it. But scientists say it could be dangerous to post those kinds of things before findings have been peer-reviewed and confirmed. If what's reported turns out to be false, the public trust in science and scientists could be damaged. But, as Gizmodo notes, "If confirmed, this would be one of the most significant physics discoveries of the last century." (Another discovery, finally confirmed, grabbed headlines earlier this month.)

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