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What will happen to science in the near future?

If you came back 30 years ago, the world would be completely different. The only known planets were the planets of the solar system. We had no idea what dark energy is. There were no space telescopes. Gravitational waves were an unproven theory. We have not yet discovered all the quarks and leptons, no one knew if the Higgs boson exists. We did not even know how quickly the universe expands. In 2018, a generation later, we significantly deepened our knowledge on these issues, and also made completely unexpected discoveries. What’s next?

What do the scientists plan to do next?

The large galactic cluster Abell 2744 and its effect of gravitational lensing against the background of galaxies, consistent with the general theory of relativity of Einstein, stretching and enlarging the light of the distant universe, allowing us to see the most distant objects.

The whole world had to work for this revolution. Telescopes, observatories, particle accelerators, neutrino detectors and experiments with gravitational waves are available all over the world, on all seven continents and even in space. IceCube at the South Pole, Hubble, Herschel and Kepler in space, LIGO and VIRGO, seeking gravity waves, the LHC and CERN – all these discoveries have been made possible by the work of thousands of scientists, engineers, students and citizens who unceasingly solve secrets The universe. With all this, it is important to realize how far we have gone: we understand the universe better than any person of the previous generation, from Newton and Einstein to Feynman. They could only dream of such a thing. What will be next?

After the modernization of the magnet, the LHC of the launching energy almost doubled. Future upgrades will increase the number of collisions per second and will allow you to extract even more data.

Particle Physics

Over the past few years, we have discovered the Higgs boson, the massiveness of neutrinos and the violation of T-symmetry. The LHC and CERN are working at full speed, collecting data at high energies. Meanwhile, IceCube and the Pierre Auger Observatory measure neutrinos, including high-energy and cosmic neutrinos, like never before. Future neutrino observatories like the IceCube Gen2 (with a tenfold increase in the collision rate) and ANTARES (a seawater detector of ten million tons) mean that we will see a tenfold increase in the amount of data obtained in these experiments and ultimately we will see neutrinos of new, fusion of neutron stars.

The IceCube Observatory, the first of its kind neutrino observatories, designed to observe elusive high-energy particles from beneath the Antarctic ice.

Do not underestimate the importance of upgrades for ongoing experiments. The LHC, in particular, collected only 2% of the data that it was supposed to collect for the service life. Meanwhile, it is possible to create new experimental installations such as the International Linear Collider, a new generation proton collider, or even (if technologies will) a relativistic muon collider that will allow us to reach new boundaries in understanding the physics of fundamental particles. It’s an amazing time to live.

Aerial view of the VIRGO gravity detector, located near Pisa (Italy). VIRGO is a giant Michelson laser interferometer with 3-kilometer sleeves, supplemented by two 4-kilometer LIGO detectors.

Gravitational waves

After decades of working on a multitude of components, the era of gravitational wave astronomy not only came, but also continues successfully. At present, the LIGO and VIRGO observatories have discovered a total of five mergers of black holes and one fusion of neutron stars, and after some updates they promise to become even more sensitive. This means that the next time they earn, they will be able to catch even more subtle and distant signals. In subsequent years, the KAGRA and LIGO detectors will be launched in India, opening up the possibilities of even more accurate gravitational-wave measurements. Gravitational waves of supernovae, flicker of pulsars, fusion of binary stars and even absorption by black holes of neutron stars can also be on the horizon.

LISA through the eyes of the artist

However, not only LIGO is engaged in the search for gravitational waves! In the 2030s, LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) will be launched, which will allow us to find gravitational waves of supermassive black holes, as well as waves of objects with low frequency. Unlike LIGO, LISA signals will allow us to predict when and where mergers will take place, so that our optical telescopes are ready to capture such a major event. Measurements of the polarization of the cosmic microwave background will make it possible to identify residual gravitational waves after inflation, as well as other signals of gravitational waves that have accumulated for billions of years. This is a completely new field of scientific research.

Hubble Ultra Deep Field, containing 10,000 galaxies, some of which are bored and crumpled together, is the deepest view of the universe we have, demonstrating its incredible length from the closest structures to those that lighted us more than 13 billion years ago. And this is only the beginning.

Astronomy and Astrophysics

How does everything begin with astronomy? As if our ongoing missions are not spectacular enough. Ground, air, space experiments are constantly updated, supplemented by new, more powerful tools; we launch new missions into space. Recently launched missions like Swift, NuSTAR, NICER and CREAM will open a new window for the most diverse things, from energy cosmic rays to the depths of neutron stars. The HIRMES tool, which should go on board SOFIA next year, will show us how the disks of protostars turn into bloated plump stars. TESS, which will be launched at the end of this year, will search for potentially inhabited earth-sized planets near the brightest and closest stars in the sky.

In 2020, the IXPE instrument will be launched, which will allow us to measure X-rays and their polarization, provide us with new information about cosmic X-rays and the most dense, most massive objects (like supermassive black holes) in the universe. GUSTO, launched in a long-range air balloon over the Arctic, will allow us to study the Milky Way and the interstellar medium, tell us about the phases of the star’s life, from birth to death. XARM and ATHENA must revolutionize X-ray astronomy by telling us about the formation of structures, the fluxes emanating from the galactic center, and later even shed light on dark matter. In the meantime, EUCLID will provide us with measurements of the distant universe and will allow us to see thousands of supernovas.

And all this, not to mention the main missions of NASA such as James Webb Space Telescope, WFIRST or four candidates for NASA’s main mission in 2030. Determine which of the potentially inhabited worlds have an atmosphere, and measure its content; to determine what building elements of life are present in molecular clouds, and to find the farthest galaxies; find the very first stars created from the Big Bang gas to study their formation and growth – all these missions can help answer the main philosophical questions about where our universe came from and why it is what it is.

At the same time, massive telescopes are being built on the earth. Large Synoptic Survey Telescope will combine the ambitions of SDSS and Pan-STARRS and make their telescopes 20 times more powerful. Square Kilometer Array promises radio astronomers to open thousands of new black holes, and possibly even sources that we do not know yet. We also build 30-meter class telescopes like GMT and ELT, which can collect 100 times more light than Hubble. The secrets of the universe are about to open to us.

This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. In each scientific area, in each subregion there is a series of interesting experiments and proposals, and even this list presented here is far from comprehensive, does not even include planetary scientific missions. And while space agencies have difficulty with financing, thousands and thousands of people are working on these missions – they plan, design, build and conduct them, and then analyze the results. When you are in search of the fundamental truth about the universe, you are trying to answer such questions:

  • What does the universe consist of?
  • How did everything become what it became?
  • Is there life in the universe except us?
  • What will be the ultimate destiny of everything?

As Thomas Zarbuchen from NASA said about current and future missions like Hubble, James Webb, WFIRST and others: “Thanks to these leading missions, we understand why we are studying the universe. It is a science in the scale of civilization. If we did not do this, we would not be NASA. ”

And not just NASA, but national and international organizations that work together, allow us to look for answers to questions that we could not even ask a generation ago. As the secrets of the universe unfold, they raise deeper and more fundamental questions about our origins, composition and destiny. This is the best time for discoveries, because the universe becomes brighter.

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