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  1. Thought we needed a thread for science stuff, given the weirdness this week. "What weirdness," I hear you ask. Well, two main items: The rumour mill is going overboard at the moment with people suggesting that the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) team have, finally, found evidence for gravitational waves. If they have, this is a Big Deal. http://www.nature.com/news/gravitational-wave-rumours-in-overdrive-1.19161 http://www.wired.com/2016/01/astrophysicists-may-have-found-gravitational-waves-or-not/ And then there's more on that weird star, KIC 8462852. The "it's comets" theory has been shredded after a study of historical data found that the star has been undergoing what's described as a secular (i.e. non-periodic) decline in brightness since at least 1890. Basically, something around the star is blocking its light in "unprecedented" fashion. Whatever it is, it can block more than 20% of the star's light. A planet like Jupiter would only block about 1% and if a planet was big enough to do this, it would be a star, not a planet. http://arxiv.org/pdf/1601.03256v1.pdf The inference, which I hasten to add is not stated in the original paper, is that an alien civilization is building a shell around the star to collect its energy, using something known as a Dyson Swarm. Colleagues of the team responsible for the discovery are clearly aware of this inference though, as they've also released another paper estimating how long constructing such a swarm would take. http://beta.briefideas.org/ideas/424bb64cf38eb9d7db0dae57dec3d28d
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