Feeds

Brits bet on gravity wave discovery

Literally

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
FORGET the CLIMATE: FATTIES are a MUCH BIGGER problem - study
Fat guy? Drink or smoke? You're worse than a TERRORIST
'Yes, yes... YES!' Philae lands on COMET 67P
Plucky probot aces landing on high-speed space rock - emotional scenes in Darmstadt
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.