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Frontier of Science

A list of subjects at the frontier of scientific discovery has been compiled in Table 16-01. It will be updated whenever new information is available.

Subject Objective Projects Measurement Status
Cosmological Model To determine parameters in the model Wilkinson Microwave Anistropy Probe (WMAP) Age and geometry of the Universe, evidence for inflation First detailed map released on February, 2003; mission has been extended beyond 2008
Dark Energy To identify the nature of dark energy (See "Vacuum Energy Density" for a 2015 update) Wilkinson Microwave Anistropy Probe (WMAP) Result seems to favour cosmological constant over negative pressure (quintessence) Ceased communication on 2010,
Final report on 2012
Dark Energy To confirm acceleration of the cosmic expansion SuperNova Acceleration Probe (SNAP) Discovery of many type Ia supernovae at redshifts greater than any yet found Replaced by WFIRST, to be launched on mid-2020s
Dark Matter To look for unseen massive objects MAssive Compact Halo Objects Project (MACHO) Brown dwarfs or planets in the halo of the Milky Way On-going since 1992,
Last update on 2012
Dark Matter To look for weakly interacting massive particles (WIMP) DAMA and other groups Heavy supersymmetry partners Inconclusive claim in 2000, second claim in 2008 with upgraded detector, phase 2 in 2016
Early Universe To observe the first stars and galaxies in the Universe James Webb (formerly Next Generation) Space Telescope (JWST) Highly redshifted and faint infrared objects 2011 (delayed to 2013),
launch date : 2018
Extra-terrestrial Intelligence To look for extra-terrestrial intelligence Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence Project (SETI) Radio signal of extraterrestrial origin On-going since 1960
Extra-terrestrial Life To look for life in another world ORIGINS Habitable planets 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
Human Genetic Map To compile the Human Book of Life Human Genome Project (HGP) and Celera Human genome Working draft completed on Feb. 2001; 99.99% completed by 2003
Quantum Computing To conduct research into all aspects of quantum information processing Centre for Quantum Information and Foundations (CQIF) A quantum computer On-going
Higgs Boson To confirm spontaneous symmetry breaking in gauge theories Experiments at CERN and Fermilab Debris identified to be from the decay of Higgs bosons Inconclusive, LHC will provide more definite answer in 2008,
Found on July, 2012
CP-Violation To explain the dominance of matter over anti-matter Experiments at BaBar/SLAC and Belle Quantum interference between two decay modes of the B0 meson Observed, but the result is not consistent with the matter anti-matter ratio
Neutrino Mass To verify if neutrino has mass Experiments at Super-Kamiokande, SNO, and other facilities Neutrino oscillation between the three generations Observed, but more measurements are needed to select competing theories
Proton Decay To validate GUT (baryon, lepton conversion) Underground detectors at Soudan and other sites Spontaneous reactions which might indicate proton decay No unambiguous event detected
Superstrings Theory To unify the four interactions and beyond Academic Institutions No testable prediction Not yet available

Table 16-01 Frontier of Science

Table 16-02 below is a short list of space-crafts currently (2010) on scientific missions. A complete listing is provided by NASA, which runs most space programs either wholly or jointly.

Spacecraft Detector(s) Observation Duration
Cassini Orbiter Radio Antenna, and Radar Saturn and its Moons 1997 -
Chandra X-ray Observatory X-ray Telescope X-ray Universe 1999 -
Fermi Satellite Gamma-ray Telescope High Energy Sources 2008 -
GALEX Ultraviolet Detectors Evolution of Galaxies 2003 -
Hubble Space Telescope Optical Telescope Optical Images of the Cosmos 1990 -
INTEGRAL Gamma-ray Observatory Gamma-ray Sources 2002 - 2012
Kepler Optical Telescope Habitable Planet Zone 2009 -
Mars Express Space Plasmas and Energetic Atoms Analyzers Water on Mars 2003 - 2012
MRO Cameras and Sounding Radar Water on Mars 2006 -
PAMELA Particle Identifier Cosmic Rays 2006 -
Planck Microwave Frequency Instruments Cosmic Microwave Background 2009 -
Spitzer Space Telescope Infrared Telescope Infrared Universe 2003 -
Swift X-ray/Ultraviolet/Optical Telescopes Gamma-ray Bursts 2004 -
WISE Telescope and Infrared Detectors Infrared Sky 2009 -

Table 16-02 Space-crafts on Scientific Missions

Solar System Missions Figure 01 portrays all the space missions past and future with the inner Solar System depicted on the upper right and the outer Solar System on the lower left pictorially. A short description of the future missions is listed below the image. Its first item is the date, follows by the name of the spacecraft, then the acronym of the mission with the planetary object at the end (the weird sounding name of "Churyumov-Gerasimenko" is a comet). The date is not listed after 2018. The acronyms are explained in the lower left corner.

Figure 01 Solar System Missions

An article in "New Scientist" (May 13-19, 2017) with the title "Odds On" lists the odds (Win$/Bet$) for the realization of ten scientific quests by 2027. It is summarized in Table 16-03 below by sequence of increasing odds.

# Quest Odds Comment(s)
01 Non-Darwinian Evolution 5/1 Epigenetics supplement to genetic changes
02 Acupuncture Vindication 5/1 To prove that it is not a placebo effect
03 Cloning Human 10/1 Scientific problem, ethical concern, and lack of commercial interest.
04 Psychedelics Licensed 14/1 Legalize mind-altering drug
05 Commercial Nuclear Fusion 20/1 Lack of funding, ITER schedule delays to 2027
06 Colonization of Mars 33/1 Environmental problems with permanent colony
07 No Quantum Weirdness 50/1 To rectify the "Theory of Hidden Variable"
08 Better Theory of Gravity 66/1 Dark-Matter vs MOND
09 Alien Contact 100/1 On-going with SETI, no contact so far
10 Perpetual Motion Machines 5000/1 It violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

Table 16-03 The Odds on Ten Scientific Quests

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