Society

Diamond Planets And Climate Science

Great post by Matthew Bailes.

Recently my colleagues and I announced the discovery of a remarkable planet orbiting a special kind of star known as a pulsar.

Based on the planet's density, and the likely history of its system, we concluded that it was certain to be crystalline. In other words, we had discovered a planet made of diamond.

Following the publication of our finding in the journal Science, our research received amazing attention from the world's media.

The diamond planet was featured in Time Magazine, the BBC and China Daily, to name but a few.

I was asked by many journalists about the significance of the discovery. If I were honest, I'd have to concede that, although worthy of publication in Science, in the field of astrophysics it isn't that significant.

Sure, there are probably somewhere between six and a dozen quite important theoretical astrophysicists around the world who would have been thrilled at the news (after all, the diamond planet fills a gap in the binary pulsar family).

But in the overall scheme of things, it isn't that important.

And yet the diamond planet has been hugely successful in igniting public curiosity about the universe in which we live.

In that sense, for myself and my co-authors, I suspect it will be among the greatest discoveries of our careers.

Our host institutions were thrilled with the publicity and most of us enjoyed our 15 minutes of fame. The attention we received was 100% positive, but how different that could have been.

How so? Well, we could have been climate scientists.

Read the post to see where he goes next.

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