A Machine Astronomer Could Help Us Find the Unknowns in the Universe

Space.com | 1/10/2017 | Staff
duck.ie (Posted by) Level 3
Click For Photo: http://www.space.com/images/i/000/061/505/original/csiro-askap-antennas.jpg?interpolation=lanczos-none&downsize=*:1000

This article was originally published at The Conversation. The publication contributed the article to Space.com's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

What have pulsars, quasars, dark matter and dark energy got in common? Answer: each of them took the discoverer by surprise. While much of science advances carefully and methodically, the majority of truly spectacular discoveries in astronomy are unexpected.

Telescopes - Things - Stuff - Matter

Many of our telescopes are built to discover the known unknowns: the things we know we don't know, such as identifying the stuff that makes up dark matter.

But the real breakthroughs are the unknown unknowns. These are the things we don't even suspect are out there until we accidentally find them.

Example - Discoveries - Space - Telescope - Proposal

For example, of the ten greatest discoveries by the Hubble space telescope, only one featured in the proposal used to justify its construction and launch. That one, measuring the rate of expansion of the universe, is a known unknown.

In other words, we had a question about something that we knew about, and we thought Hubble could answer the question. Most of the other discoveries are unknown unknowns: we didn't know what they were until we stumbled across them.

Discovery - Energy - Discovery - Nobel - Prize

They include the discovery of dark energy, the only Hubble discovery (so far) to win a Nobel prize, in 2011.

Consider pulsars. They were discovered in the 1960s when a bright young PhD student in the UK, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, was studying the twinkling of radio waves by electrons in space (a known unknown).

Bits - Bits - Scruff - Chart - Recorder

She noticed odd bits of what she called "bits of scruff" on her chart recorder, and realised they were something much more startling than mere tractor interference, and thereby discovered pulsars — an unknown unknown — for which her supervisor Antony Hewish won the 1974 Nobel prize for physics.

So how did she make that discovery?

Bright - Persistent - Student - Bell - Burnell

Apart from being a bright, persistent, open-minded student, Bell Burnell...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Space.com
Wake Up To Breaking News!
Sign In or Register to comment.

Welcome to Long Room!

Give Us 5 Minutes, We'll Give You The World!

LongRoom Culture
Lake Berryessa, California Has Water Levels 3.5' above the Glory Hole Spillway The drought is over in California and the latest...
This Rubber Band Machine Gun Is Awesome! This rubber band maching gun isn't lethal, but it is impressive!  The only problem...
Dog Catches Fish By Using Breadcrumbs as Bait! This clever dog stands very still in the water with his head near some floating...
Slinky Used to Squirrel-proof Bird feeder! A grandmother decided to use a slinky to deter squirrels from her bird feeder!...
Skydiver Makes Extremely Dangerous Sliding Maneuver Across Water Before Coming to a Stop on Land! The name of this maneuver is...
A Calm Nature Moment - Wombat Just Calmly Grazing On Grass! Usually nature videos are filled with mealtime drama, so it is nice...
Turtle Turns Slowly, Then Makes a Super Fast Getaway! Most people think that all turtles are slow perhaps because of the...
Man On Beach Makes Gigantic Bubbles! This incredible bubble almost looks like an alien creature coming to devour people on the...
Man on Very Strange Moving Contraption! This unusual vehicle that looks something like a cross between a tricycle and a spider...
Four Girls Sweep A Rat Down The Stairs And Out An Open Door! This is a wonderfully coordinated effort, especially the sweep...
First Attempt at the World Record for Longest Blindfolded Basket! Guiness Record Set for 71 Foot Blind Folded Basketball!...
Cute Cat Frantically Tries To Stop Washing Machine! This cat gives it a good try at trying to get this washing machine to stop...
So Many Cats You Just Won't Believe It, Stampede Out of Pet Carrier! After the first cat comes out and looks around the rest of...
Behind the Scenes Filming of the Tsunami in the Movie "The Impossible"! Someone who worked on the underwater filming of "The...
British Cyclists Hilariously Try To Free Bike Caught On An Electric Fence! Three friends on an outing have a shocking...
A Backyard Roller Coaster Builder Designed This Coaster For His Grandkids! Paul Gregg has got to be the greatest grandfather...
Morphing Timeline of Portraits of Queen Elizabeth from Banknotes! This is an amazing morphing image of the Queen's portraits...
Incredible Footage of Fire Hose of Lava Spewing from Kīlauea Volcano's Ocean Entry! The active Kīlauea Volcano has been...
Transformer Table! Round Table Expands From Small Round Table To Large Round Table With Built In Leaves!
Man Fights With Praying Mantis! This fight between a praying mantis and a man hardly looks fair, but the praying mantis is game...
Amazing Woman Dives From Dizzyingly High Dive Platform on Cruise Ship! This is not for the faint of heart to even watch, it is...
Dachshund Is Reunited With His Favorite Squeaky Toy After Five Years! The owner reintroduced this polka dot pig squeaky toy to...
Fascinating Pillow Changes Color! The material that this pillow is made from has the ability to change color depending on which...
Crazy Van Plows Through Plaza and Miraculously Misses Everyone! This van crashes through fences at a plaza and the people...
Bobcat Does Balancing Act on Pipe! This piece of equipment can be controlled and balanced so precisely that it can even roll on...
Demonstration Of Man Disarming Two Men Holding Guns On Him. This is impressive, but probably not something you would want to...
Skating Across The Ice Using A Chainsaw For Propulsion! Using a chainsaw to pull yourself across the ice is a great way to save...
Fish Steering Its Tank On Wheels Around a Room! Imagine your fish being able to drive around the house in its aquarium.
Dog Pulls Another Dog From The Rapids By The Stick He Is Carrying! The black dog is going down the rapids holding a good sized...
A Real Toucan Sam Eats Froot Loops! This toucan is really enjoying his fruit loops, so does this mean there is truth in...