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What will we know in 2020 that we don't know now?

  1. Jul 31, 2015 #1


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    Not looking for predictions of the answers, just what important questions that might be answered over the next five years or so.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 31, 2015 #2
    I think we will realize that string theory is still useless for making testable predictions.
  4. Jul 31, 2015 #3
    What happened between August 2015 and December 2019.
  5. Jul 31, 2015 #4
    JWST is scheduled to launch in October 2018.
    If all goes well we will then have much better resolution images of very distant objects.
  6. Jul 31, 2015 #5


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    At the very least we'll have more data. Five more years of data on things like climate change, oil reserves, geological phenomena. Five more years of data on LHC experiments, astronomical observations with modern telescopes (the James Webb Space Telescope might be in operation by then even*). Five more years of data on even more mundane things such as whether Facebook, Amazon and Netflix make viable and sustainable business models.

    *[Edit: @rootone beat me to the JWST by about 45 seconds! :smile:]
  7. Jul 31, 2015 #6


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    * We will know the CP violating phase, mass hierarchy, and theta23 mixing angle quadrant for neutrino mixing, and will have much tighter bounds of the absolute neutrino masses and the maximum extent to which those masses could have a Majorana as opposed to a Dirac source. At that point all Standard Model constants will have been measured to some reasonable degree of precision.

    * We will know much more accurately if the sum of the square of the fundamental fermion masses equals the sum of the square of the fundamental boson masses.

    * The parameter space of theories explaining dark matter phenomena will be much narrower.

    * We will know if there are new particles at the electroweak scale.

    * We won't need to know if Facebook has a sustainable business model, because we already do - it is one of only 23 large companies in the world with no liabilities that can be paid instantly in cash from its checking account, and has $6 billion in the bank on top of that. It could be alive and well even if it lost $1 million a day, every day, for the next twenty years or so.
  8. Jul 31, 2015 #7
    cancer drugs that are made on demand to regulate apoptosis in any variation of genes along with the new forms of immune system attack, welcome to super healthy people.

    something I eventually hope to be working on, think of the money waiting to be made $$$$ :woot:
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2015
  9. Jul 31, 2015 #8


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    The entire pharma industry gets one or two shots at the key process, the patent expires twenty years later, and suddenly, nobody but generic drug makers earn any profits from the former #1 leading cause of death. And, in the meantime, you destroy the solvency of Social Security and every defined benefit pension system in the world.

    Then again, it might actually be a net win for the geriatric health and pharma industry, because cancer free does not mean super healthy, it just means that people are dying of all the other things that they usually don't die of because they die of cancer first. Replacing the #1 leading cause of death with a diversified set of a dozen other causes of death might just keep big pharma busy after all.
  10. Jul 31, 2015 #9
    yea but what would you give for 20 years of extra life. :wink:
  11. Jul 31, 2015 #10


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    Not many people would be willing to pay everything they own for 20 years of extra life, and the lion's share of people die with probate estates in the five figures or less. The cost would be paid in the U.S. almost entirely by the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit using some else's money. So, what I would be willing to give is almost irrelevant. The question is what Congress would be willing to pay to cover not quite half of the elderly population.

    Also, my guess is that you are talking about something closer to 8-10 years of extra life, much of its of subpar quality, than 20 years, on average, based upon life expectancy in places with very great longevity, where the average is about that much over other developed country places, even though the peak is much higher.

    In general, Congress usually responds to the will of the median voter on fiscal issues, so the question is how much the average early middle aged person would be willing to pay in taxes so that his parents could live 8-10 years of extra life. My guess is not much more than 1% of Medicare taxable income.
  12. Jul 31, 2015 #11
    who said it has to cost that much, less than 20,000 per person, economies of scale, still a trillion to be made.

    and I could have walked head on in the river...
    clinging to your stocks and bonds....

    someone saved my life tonight...
  13. Jul 31, 2015 #12


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    That Silicon chip shrinking will won't end about 2020 and that most chips will still be made from silicon for the next 20 years.
  14. Jul 31, 2015 #13
    Might have some idea what happened with the MH370 mystery.
  15. Aug 1, 2015 #14


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    • There is a reasonable chance to detect gravitational waves within the next 5 years (mainly depends on how fast the commissioning of the detectors proceeds).
    • There is a good chance to detect the (primordial component of the) B-mode in the cosmic microwave background, which is another observation of gravitational waves and a strong evidence for inflation.
    • Gaia will have completed its observations of 1 billion stars with the most precise measurements ever performed on them, including the discovery of (at least) thousands of large exoplanets.
    • TESS should have found about 3000 exoplanets, including small, earth-like ones.
    • We will know much more about Mars, Pluto, Ceres, and various other objects.
    • There is some chance to find hints of extraterrestrial life. This will get much better by 2030, however, when the telescopes E-ELT and TMT had some chance to do spectroscopy on exoplanets.
    • We will know if SpaceX manages to land and re-use their rockets, and how inflatable space station modules work.
    • I'm not so sure if all the neutrino measurements @ohwilleke lists can be done within 5 years. At least some of them, and within 10-15 years they should all be possible.
    • We will know better where SUSY is not. At least in theory, it is possible to learn where SUSY is as well, but I would not expect this.
  16. Aug 1, 2015 #15
    That practical nuclear fusion will still be twenty to thirty years away.
    Lighter than air aircraft will be about to make a come back
    Home aero cars are just around the corner
  17. Aug 2, 2015 #16
    You'll surely make Brian Greene and Michio Kaku furious!
  18. Aug 6, 2015 #17


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    This is a good point.

    I predict that within the next 5 years, cigarette companies will be allowed to start advertising on TV and that Medicare will distribute free cigarettes to all retirement facilities. Heroin and methamphetamine will be legalized for anyone over the age of 55. (On a side note, it will be revealed that anti-smoking campaigns have all been funded by communist organizations bent on the collapse of our free market economy.)

    Thanks to TV advertising, adventure trips for the elderly will become a booming business. Imagine hunting endangered lions with a paintball gun as your guide rapidly drives away in the vehicle that brought you.
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