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ToSeek
2004-Aug-27, 04:28 PM
Biggest bets in the universe unveiled (http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99996331)


Betting on the greatest unsolved problems in the universe is no longer the preserve of academic superstars such as Stephen Hawking. From Thursday anyone will be able to place bets on whether the biggest physics experiments in the world will come good before 2010.

For two weeks, British-based bookmaker Ladbrokes is opening a book on five separate discoveries: life on Titan, gravitational waves, the Higgs boson, cosmic ray origins and nuclear fusion.

Eta C
2004-Aug-27, 05:07 PM
Since he lives in London, maybe Soupdragon should get in on this action. After all, he had a spare million to offer for the observation of dark matter. I already have a more modest bet with him (for a bottle of wine) on finding two of the following three effects by 2012): the Higgs, direct detction of gravity waves (their existence is already strongly inferred by the behavior of binary pulsars (http://www.nobel.se/physics/laureates/1993/index.html). Explain that one with the electric universe), and dark matter.

Normandy6644
2004-Aug-27, 05:52 PM
Since he lives in London, maybe Soupdragon should get in on this action. After all, he had a spare million to offer for the observation of dark matter. I already have a more modest bet with him (for a bottle of wine) on finding two of the following three effects by 2012): the Higgs, direct detction of gravity waves (their existence is already strongly inferred by the behavior of binary pulsars (http://www.nobel.se/physics/laureates/1993/index.html). Explain that one with the electric universe), and dark matter.

I think the Higgs particle will be found by the Large Hadron Collider within a few years, and didn't we already do nuclear fusion? :D

Eta C
2004-Aug-27, 06:00 PM
I think the Higgs particle will be found by the Large Hadron Collider within a few years, and didn't we already do nuclear fusion? :D

Fermilab may still have a shot at the Higgs, but you're right. The LHC is the more likely lab to find it. My guess on the other is that the bookies referred to an operational controlled fusion reactor. We've certainly achieved uncontrolled fusion (it's called a hydrogen bomb) and I think the Princeton tokomak did reach break-even for a short period. If they're offering bets on cold fusion I'd go ahead and bet the bank against it.

Normandy6644
2004-Aug-27, 07:35 PM
I think the Higgs particle will be found by the Large Hadron Collider within a few years, and didn't we already do nuclear fusion? :D

Fermilab may still have a shot at the Higgs, but you're right. The LHC is the more likely lab to find it. My guess on the other is that the bookies referred to an operational controlled fusion reactor. We've certainly achieved uncontrolled fusion (it's called a hydrogen bomb) and I think the Princeton tokomak did reach break-even for a short period. If they're offering bets on cold fusion I'd go ahead and bet the bank against it.

Yeah, I agree. Cold fusion doesn't look like a winner. What would the implications be if it did happen though?

George
2004-Aug-27, 10:03 PM
Since he lives in London, maybe Soupdragon should get in on this action. After all, he had a spare million to offer for the observation of dark matter.
:) Hmmm....Does he win 2 million if he proves dark matters existence? :)

Speaking of gambling, does Vegas not host many conventions for physicists still?

Grand Vizier
2004-Aug-31, 08:59 PM
Since he lives in London, maybe Soupdragon should get in on this action. [...]

Looks like he and a lot of people have been up for a flutter - I was considering it myself, particularly on gravity waves. Ladbrokes has rapidly shortened the odds since the NS piece came out:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3613510.stm

Not quite as attractive as it was. I think it's certainly worth putting a fiver on the Titan outsider bet, though, just for a laugh.

Interesting selection, actually. But I would have thought there were some more they could add. I guess the criterion is that someone has to be actively observing and/or experimenting in the area, but even so, here's a few:

Life on Mars: strange that was left out. Perhaps they now regard that as a racing certainty, with the Mars Express methane/ammonia detection and all. I'd maybe go 1/4 now, which doesn't make it much of a bet.

Kuiper Belt body larger than Pluto to be found by 2010: 1/3 odds anyone?

Detection of a signal (radio/laser, whatever) from an intelligent ET source by 2010: 10,000/1? Now that's an attractive outside bet.

Any more science bets anyone can think of? (pity the solar neutrino anomaly has been settled...)

ToSeek
2004-Aug-31, 09:26 PM
Life on Mars: strange that was left out. Perhaps they now regard that as a racing certainty, with the Mars Express methane/ammonia detection and all. I'd maybe go 1/4 now, which doesn't make it much of a bet.




Ladbrokes said it has closed the book on evidence emerging that Mars had ever harbored living organisms.

"Following the latest news from NASA, we think it is now likely that evidence of past life on Mars will be found in the coming years," said spokesman Warren Lush.

The odds on past life on Mars were 16 to 1 when the book closed, down from 1,000 to 1 when the first bets were taken in the 1970s.

- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4440118/
...
Ladbrokes is still offering 500-to-1 odds on whether there are organisms still living on Mars

Grand Vizier
2004-Aug-31, 10:23 PM
The odds on past life on Mars were 16 to 1 when the book closed, down from 1,000 to 1 when the first bets were taken in the 1970s.

- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4440118/
...
Ladbrokes is still offering 500-to-1 odds on whether there are organisms still living on Mars

Thanks, missed that. Pity about that closed book. I think 500:1 is worth taking though...

Actually, there is another bet to add to the list:


In the early 1960s, William Hill offered 1,000-to-1 odds against a human landing on the moon before the end of the decade and paid out 10,000 pounds in 1969 when David Threlfall won his 10-pound bet.

So, what are the odds on the United States achieving a Return to the Moon by George Bush's stated date of 2020? I'm a pessimist right now, I'd probably say 10:1, but I'm enough of an optimist to give it a virtual certainty that someone will by, say, 2040...