Feeds

Brits bet on gravity wave discovery

Literally

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Business security measures using SSL

The Great British Public is so sure that scientists will discover gravity waves within the next six years that Ladbrokes, the bookies, has had to slash the odds it is prepared to offer anyone wanting to bet on it.

The betting firm offered odds on five scientific breakthroughs being made by 2010. It reportedly offered 10,000/1 against life being found on Saturn's moon Titan, although the site does not show this as an available bet at the moment, and originally set the odds of discovering gravitational waves at 500/1.

The odds looked too good to the punters, though, and the company has had to shorten the odds to 10-1 as a result, according to Warren Lush, a Ladbrokes spokesman, speaking on the BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"We had to shorten odds to 10/1, but when I was asking experts, physicists about this they were very very divided and 80 per cent of those I spoke to thought it had no chance of being discovered by 2010."

Since that broadcast, the odds have shortened further and are now just 6/1.

Gravitational waves are distortions in space time predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity. He predicted that two stars in orbit around one another would gradually lose energy from their orbits in the form of gravitational radiation. The orbits would gradually collapse, resulting in shorter and shorter orbital periods.

There is some observational evidence that supports the theory: two astronomers (Taylor and Weisberg) have recorded a shortening of the orbital period of a binary pulsar, but that comes under the heading of 'circumstantial evidence'. For the bookies to pay out, the waves must be conclusively identified.

Lush says that since the odds have been made available, he has been inundated with calls from scientists explaining to him how wrong (and right) his odds are, a reaction we at El Reg are most used to.

Bets will be settled on the basis of reports published in New Scientist magazine, the bookies say. ®

Those odds in full:

  • Understanding the origin of cosmic rays by 2010: 4/1
  • The ATLAS experiment at CERN finding the Higgs Boson by 2010: 6/1
  • The Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) detecting gravitational waves by 2010: 6/1
  • Building a fusion power station by 2010: 50/1

Read more about gravity waves here (pdf).

Related stories

11 year-old-kids free to gamble online
Cybercops seize Russian extortion masterminds
European betting sites brace for attack

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.