I’ve been a very good boy all year. I have done lots of research, written and published several papers, and got my PhD. For Christmas I would like:
- Dark Matter
I really want to know what dark matter is. Not knowing what 80% of the universe is made of is really bugging me. Is it WIMPs? WISPs? Axions? What is it?
I know it’s got to be made of something and not just modified gravity because of what happened to the Bullet Cluster. I’d be really happy if one of our dark matter detectors found some, maybe at the SABRE experiment in Victoria?
We’ve been trying to find a Grand Unified Theory to unite gravity and the electroweak force for more than 30 years now and we don’t seem to be getting any closer. Finding a graviton would really help. I don’t think Mum and Dad, or anyone else on the planet, would be very happy if I got a graviton detector the size of Jupiter, so I’ll settle for something indirect, like polarization of the cosmic microwave background. That would be really cool. The polarization thing would also help work out what the heck was going on with the inflation of the universe, so it would be like two presents in one.
- Supernova explosion
I think it’s really unfair that we haven’t had an easily visible supernova explosion for more than 400 years. I was told we’re meant to get one every century. SN 1987A doesn’t count because it wasn’t in our galaxy and was too far away to be visible during the day. To make up for having to wait so long, I reckon Betelgeuse should be the next supernova. That would be really awesome.
A supernova in our region of the galaxy would be great for learning about neutrinos, gravitational waves, and all sorts of cool nuclear fusion stuff.
- Signal from aliens
Where are all the aliens? There’s ten billion Earth-like planets in the galaxy, so even if there is only a 0.00000001% chance that one of them has a civilization similar enough to ours that we could detect them, that means we should still see something. So why haven’t we?
It would be really great if SETI found a signal from aliens. Just a little one, so that we’d know we weren’t alone in the galaxy.
- Exoplanet with life
I know this present is sort of like the previous one, but finding even the indicators of basic lifeforms on an exoplanet would be amazing. It would tell us so much about how life started evolving on Earth, and how rare or common life is in the universe.
- Neutrino mass
Ok, so I know neutrinos have mass, but the Standard Model of Particle Physics says that neutrinos shouldn’t have mass. What is the mass of a neutrino? What causes their mass? If we can find this out then we can start fixing whatever is wrong with the Standard Model and we would know more about the workings of the entire universe.
- New SI units
Some of our old units of measurement are getting a bit out of date. I think it’s time we had new ones.
The kilogram is still defined by a lump of metal in Paris. Surely we can do a lot better than that. We just need to redefine the kilo in terms of universal constants.
And the second is still defined using microwave atomic clocks. Our new optical atomic clocks could define the second with a lot more precision.
So, Santa, I would like a new kilogram and a new second.
- And as always, can I please have a research grant?
David (27 y.o.)