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Of Cosmic Significance

I mean it.

1) Neutrinos have mass. This means we may have found a significant chunk (not all, but some) of that missing “dark matter” you were worried about. (Minos experiment at Fermilab by Dr. Lisa Falk Harris and others. Understandable explanation and links to the research at the BBC.)

2) A new fundamental particle may exist. Axions. These are sort of like photons with a tiny bit of mass, if I understand the gist, which I probably don’t. (Somewhat understandable explanation and links at physicsweb.)

3) The Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft, launched in 1972 and 1973, are not where they should be according to the known laws of physics. Something is holding them back. “Each year, they fall behind in their projected travel by about 5,000 kilometers (3,000 miles)” (Pioneer Anomaly, Planetary Society). Given that they’re out at the edge of the solar system where it meets interstellar space, and that they travel tens of millions of miles a year, the discrepancy is tiny. But it’s there. And it shouldn’t be.

4) Gravitons may have–finally!–been detected. Tajmar and DeMatos (European Space Agency) detected an effect around spinning superconductors that they say provides the first empirical evidence for a gravitomagnetic field. The size of the gravitomagnetic field that was induced can be explained if the (theoretical) gravitons are assumed to be much heavier than predicted by theory. The really neat thing about this is that empirical evidence of gravitons could ensue, and then actual study of the beasts. And then, at long last, we (well, pointy-headed physicists) could start to understand gravity.