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Gravitational Waves Were the Worst-Kept Secret in Science
Now that we know the big news—scientists have observed gravitational waves, produced by a pair of merging black holes—let’s revisit the clustercuss of a quagmire in which it was announced. While the scientists kept quiet about their discovery, it quickly became one of worst-kept secrets in the scientific world.
That’s because rumor-hungry scientists and journalists refused to let the scientists looking for gravitational waves, the LIGO team, drive its own train. Given the rigor with which a breakthrough of this magnitude is evaluated, not only do these premature disclosures not serve readers, they’re irresponsible, arguably unprofessional, and potentially harmful.
It started way back in September, when physicist Lawrence Krauss sent out this tweet:
Rumor of a gravitational wave detection at LIGO detector. Amazing if true. Will post details if it survives.
— Lawrence M. Krauss