From the moment that Einstein’s theory of gravity was proven when two black holes slammed together, to the discovery of a region of space where the temperature is right for liquid water, and by extension, life, 2016 was full of scientific breakthroughs.
As The Guardian reports, a signal that came from beyond the Large Magellanic Cloud captured the moment when two black holes slammed together, sending ripples through space-time and onwards to Earth, caused scientists at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (Ligo) to cheer.
“We have detected gravitational waves," said David Reitze of Ligo.
The announcement confirmed Einstein’s century-old theory of gravity and while it put the Ligo team on course for a Nobel Prize, perhaps more importantly, it opened up the possibility for scientists to build gravitational wave observatories that can be used to look back at the birth of the universe.
Another astronomical discovery occurred at the European Southern Observatory in Chile when changes in the light coming from Proxima Centauri, the star nearest to the sun. After an Earth-sized planet was observed pulling the red dwarf around, astronomers were thrilled to realize that the newly discovered world lay in the star’s habitable zone, where the temperature is right for liquid water, and therefore, life.
On planet Earth, meanwhile, scientists made another discovery - the healing benefits of magic mushrooms, which they found could lift severe depression. The discovery begs the question could that currently illegal drug, like marijuana, gain footing for legalization in the future?