[ExI] Surprise! Our Bodies Have Been Hiding a Trojan Horse for Gene Therapy
spike at rainier66.com
spike at rainier66.com
Wed Aug 25 14:36:12 UTC 2021
…> On Behalf Of William Flynn Wallace via extropy-chat
>…How many scientific discoveries occurred the very first time something was tried? I'd say probably none. Every success rests atop a mountain of failures. bill w
I can only think of one, but that one was truly great: LIGO, the black hole merger detector.
That one was an important object lesson to me. It is a rare example of an experiment which has no viable downscale test experiments. With the detector technology we have, the tube would need to be as long as it is (4 km) so you can’t really build a mini-LIGO with 4-meter tubes. The first attempt to detect gravity waves would need to cost a ton of money, which My understanding at the time of the Big Bang was that we would have a black hole merger about once a century on average. I thought at the time would be a waste: we would turn it on, wait for a signal for perhaps a century, never see one, they eventually turn it off. Or we would see one, argue for another century on what that was, never see another one, like the legendary WOW signal from SETI.
But that isn’t what happened at all. They spent a ton of money, built the thing, turned it on for what was intended as mostly a calibration run in 2015, three weeks later BWIP. I do confess I didn’t believe it was the real thing: just too coincidental. I was there when they pulled the cover off that astonishing BWIP at the Stanford linear accelerator in Feb 2016.
Now we are getting several events a year, and some of them are being dug out of the data and interpreted after the fact. I missed my estimate of how often these events occur by a cool three orders of magnitude. As far as I know, not one scientist or astronomer predicted we would be getting such a vast treasure chest of events from that instrument. The most optimistic guessed an event every few years.
LIGO is a rare example of a scientific discovery of huge importance that worked beyond everyone’s imagination on the first try.
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