The best of 2020

Looking back at the year that’s ending, there was no really-really impressive news. Even the 2+1 things that I could single out were not definite discoveries, only promising findings.

Both the “2” top two things happened in April. In elementary particles, it was the T2K experiment finding hints of CP-violation in neutrinos. You can read all (or at least the main parts) about it here. This can prove to be quite important for how we understand the subatomic world, but it is still far from being a certainty.

In astrophysics, it was about the origin of fast radio bursts (FRBs). FRBs are mysterious and extremely powerful flashes of radio waves reaching us from other galaxies. In April a FRB was seen inside the Milky Way for the first time, and a potential source was pinpointed: a weird type of neutron star known as a magnetar. However, more observations would be needed to confirm magnetars as the general source of FRBs.

As about the “+1” thing… it’s a little tricky: it will probably turn out to be nothing, but if it doesn’t then it’s the news of the century. Also, it happened only a few days ago so it can’t be found in the Ph-posts written during 2020, and a few days will pass until the December post is up. But hey, here is the teaser: we caught a signal that looks like of extraterrestrial origin, coming from none other than Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the sun.

And with that The Ph-word sends you its wishes for a fulfilling year with spectacular science!

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