Over the course of four Thursdays in November 1915, Albert Einstein stood before the Prussian Academy in Berlin and unveiled a set of equations that upended our ideas about space and time. A century later, his grand project remains frustratingly incomplete. Sure, the general theory of relativity has become the foundation of our modern understanding of the big bang, black holes, and gravity itself—but crucial parts of it remain unverified.
One unproved prediction is that an accelerating mass should create gravitational waves, like the ripples from a boat sailing across the surface of a lake. In July, the hunt for those waves will heat up with the launch of a detector called Lisa Pathfinder, which will test technology for a new gravitational wave observatory in space. Starting in 2015, two earthbound experiments, Advanced Ligo and Advanced Virgo, will be brought online. They should be able to pick up gravitational disturbances from exploding stars. Another test will examine the motions of a triple-star system called PSR J0337+1715 to check if gravity behaves the same toward all kinds of matter, as Einstein believed.
Some scientists suspect other aspects of relativity are just flat-out wrong. For years, cosmologists have observed dramatic, unexplained movements of galaxies. Those motions are normally attributed to hypothetical dark matter and dark energy, but at a series of conferences this year, physicists will explore the possibility that gravity simply doesn’t work the way Einstein thought. And then there’s the elephant in the lab: General relativity clashes with quantum mechanics. Attempts to reconcile them have so far yielded nothing but endless, inconclusive papers about string theory.
Physicists’ greatest hope for 2015, then, is that one of these experiments will show where Einstein got off track, so someone else can jump in and get closer to his long-sought “theory of everything.”
This article is part of our annual "Year In Ideas" package, which looks forward to the most important science stories we can expect in the coming year. It was originally published in the January 2015 issue of Popular Science.
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Explainer: The nico-teen brain
The adolescent brain is especially vulnerable to the addictive effects of nicotine
BY TERESA SHIPLEY FELDHAUSEN 7:00AM, AUGUST 19, 2015
Nicotine (black triangle towards center left) tricks the nerve cell (neuron) into sending a message to release more dopamine (yellow dots). Those molecules enter the space (synapse) between one nerve cell and the next. When they get picked up by neighboring cells, this gives users a feel-good high. It also creates the risk of addiction and other health problems. EMail Print Twitter Facebook Reddit Google+
NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON DRUG ABUSE, ADAPTED BY J. HIRSHFELD
Nicotine is the addictive chemical in tobacco smoke and e-cigarette vapors. And doctors say the teenage brain is no place for it to end up. Nicotine can reach the brain within seven seconds of puffing on a cigar, hookah, cigarette or electronic cigarette.
The area of the brain responsible for emotions and controlling our wild impulses is known as the prefrontal c…
Chrome Browser IntegrationI do not see IDM extension in Chrome extensions list. How can I install it? How to configure IDM extension for Chrome?Please note that all IDM extensions that can be found in Google Store are fake and should not be used. You need to install IDM extension manually from IDM installation folder. Read in step 2 how to do it.
2. I don't see "IDM Integration module" extension in the list of extensions in Chrome. How can I install it?
Press on Chrome menu (arrow 1 on the image), select "Settings" menu item (arrow 2 on the image) and then select "Extensions" tab (arrow 3 on the image). After this open IDM installation folder ("C:\Program Files (x86)\Internet Download Manager" by default, arrow 4 on the image) and drag and drop "IDMGCExt.crx" (arrow 5 on the image) file into "Extensions" page opened in…