Predictions for 2012

By Sean Carroll | January 1, 2012 10:57 am

So you don’t enter the new year completely unprepared, here are my most secure predictions for 2012. Unlike other prognostication websites, these predictions are based on Science!

1. Freely-falling objects will accelerate toward the ground at an approximately constant rate, up to corrections due to air resistance.

2. Of all the Radium-226 nuclei on the Earth today, 0.04% will decay by the end of the year.

3. A line drawn between any planet (or even dwarf planet) and the Sun will sweep out equal areas in equal times.

4. Hurricanes in the Northern hemisphere will rotate counterclockwise as seen from above.

5. The pressure of a gas squeezed in a piston will rise inversely with the change in volume.

6. Electric charges in motion will give rise to magnetic fields.

7. The energy of an object at rest whose mass decreases will also decrease, by the change in mass times the speed of light squared.

8. The content of the world’s genomes will gradually evolve in ways determined by fitness in a given environment, sexual selection, and random chance.

9. The entropy of closed systems will increase.

10. People will do many stupid things, and some surprisingly smart ones.

Happy New Year, everyone.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Miscellany
  • http://www.savory.de/blog.htm Eunoia

    Re 1: Wrong. Gravitational acceleration is also a function of latitude, altitude and geology ;-)

  • http://newstechnica.com David Gerard

    That’s just, like, your scientism, man.

  • L.S.

    For prediction # 3, I think we should consider expansion of the universe ? it was the same, say 5 G years ago? or will it be the same ?
    also what if a comet is goning to visit us?

    Ps. even if the assumed perturbation is very very tiny we are talking about lines :)

    happy new year.

  • http://www.flisser.com Bob F.

    I’m also fairly sure that by the end of the year, the moon will be roughly an inch further away from the Earth than it is today.

  • Gizelle Janine

    Oh, thank you. This year I had a concussion. I actually walked right into a subway pole. Damn me I forgot what train. :D . I can’t make this kind of stuff up, I’m that lucky. Prediction for 2012: brain damage will be hip and cool and everyone will want to do it. I bet 20 bucks and if I lose…I owe you a coke… :D

  • Oded

    #2 – only with very high probability

    #3 – again, only up to slight corrections due to other planets (this is how most outer planets were even found!)

  • Pingback: In 2012… « daleypics

  • Dave

    You blew it on #3, Sean! This is true for only the pathetically small number of planets that orbit the Sun. For most of the 700-odd known planets, you’d need to use the host star instead of the Sun, although we’d be hard pressed to confirm that this is true.

  • Rotator

    Is a hurricane the same as a cyclone? If it is, #4 is not true on venus… unless you re-define “north” as well.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/sean/ Sean Carroll

    I presume everyone understands that the real reason to produce a list such as this is to give nitpickers a chance to nitpick. Bringing a little joy into the New Year!

  • Tintin

    It gives some unsecured people the occasion to reassure themselves, certainly wrongly, that they are still a little bit smarter than the writer who, in this case, proposed this list of predictions totally tongue-in-cheek, and prove to the rest of us that they, the smart as$es, have no sense of humor.

  • http://gplus.to/winkx winkx

    I predict man will this year after a long and at times dangerous struggle, will find the g spot..

  • Dick

    “unsecured people”

    Tintin, I’m sure your meant “insecure people”, no?

    winkx, regarding the “g” spot, if only we could be so lucky. ;) But, absent such luck, I can only advise to just keep trying.

  • M.H.Namjoo

    I guess, you predicted last year that no thing will travel faster than light in 2011 !! :)

  • BigBangBoom

    I predict that the Faster than Light Neutrinos at CERN results will stand. It will remain unexplained until someone weighs a rock in the path of the neutrinos at the CERN end and finds it weighs less than expected. This will be evidence of E(q) “expansionary quantum energy” similar to the “inflatron field” postulated by Dr. Guth as the cause of Inflation at the Big Bang.
    CERN is recreating conditions similar to those mere seconds after the Big Bang, that CERN should recreate a weak “inflatron” type field should not be a huge surprise.

  • http://sro0.wordpress.com Samuel

    In #9 I’d say the entropy won’t decrease in closed systems.

  • BobC

    #5 also depends on temperature. It can fail when temperature varies.

    PV = nRT, baby!

  • Alana

    There has to be someone to design an idea, someone to implement it, and yet others to challenge it. As soon as a process is complete, you’ve become a fool. There is never an end, there is always more. And when you think you find an end, you have simply come to the end of your understanding. Someone else will come to new understandings, and challenge the creative idea, continueing the process, outside of your own knowledge. Just think where we would be if we simply stopped and only implemented the new knowledge of scientists past. Keep blood letting in medicine, and using wax and wick for light. We’ve come a long way Charlie Brown. I am not a scientist. I am a mom. I just have creative thought, and a curious nature. I always have a new “why” question.

    I’m just saying that because some want to correct your ideas, which in reality, causes you to challenge their thought, and creates new questions for you. Happy New Year Sean.

  • http://www.astro.multivax.de:8000/helbig/helbig.html Phillip Helbig

    “I predict that the Faster than Light Neutrinos at CERN results will stand. I”

    I don’t.

    I haven’t looked at this in detail, but it seems that the GPS corrections due to the fact that we are not in a perfect vacuum are of the same order of magnitude as the observed effect. Seems like it would be pretty easy to goof up here, considering that one has to essentially model the ionosphere etc in real time (isn’t the Sun rather active now) to get it right.

    Does anyone here know more about this?

  • Pingback: Predictions for 2012 | Matteo Rossini

  • ollie

    OMG….what is the probability that all of these predictions come true….THERE IS A GOD!!!!!!
    :)

  • ivy privy

    8. The content of the world’s genomes will gradually evolve in ways determined by fitness in a given environment, sexual selection, and random chance.

    The first two list items are redundant if you consider that the sexual preferences of one’s cospecifics are part of one’s environment.

  • Gizelle Janine

    @winkx: Thats NEVER going to happen. It’s like thinking about God at that point…deny, deny, deny…

    @David Gerard: Laugh out loud. Totally.

    @Sean: Is it hip to make year end blogs or am I missing something here? SHOULD I get a Google + account or is this not a question of free will? :D

    @ivy privy:

    “The first two list items are redundant if you consider that the sexual preferences of one’s cospecifics are part of one’s environment.”

    Really? What about when thinking about quantum mechanics?

  • Gizelle Janine

    Also…

    thank you Kevin Kennedy. From @kevin: “Whoever made this blog is awesome. They have taken Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road” and re-wrote it as “bro” (frat boy type dude) check it out this shit is real funny” It really is.

    “At one point, Carlo Marx and I texted about the status updates and wondered if we would ever meet the epic Dean Moriarty. This is all far back, when Dean was not the crazy fucking jagoff he is today, when he was a young Communications major shrouded in Axe Body Spray. ”

    http://onthebrod.com/tagged/otb/chrono

    Personally? My prediction is @sean wont be able to stop laughing, @winkx might die. just a prediction… :D

    @ollie : God doesnt exist here, sorry.

  • Chris the Canadian

    I predict:

    1. The sun will continue to burn Hydrogen

    2. People will still be driving cars that burn fossil fuels.

    3. HIV/AIDS and Cancer will still not have cures, but we will be closer to solving their riddles.

    4. Monkey’s, apes, Orangutans, and Chimpanzee’s will not escape secret laboratories and take over the world.

    5. CERN will be unable to verify the Higgs principle, thus leaving physicists scrambling to try and bullsh!t their way around the lack of evidence.

    6. Dark energy will remain in the dark, with us having little evidence of it’s existence.

    7. Despite the lack of evidence, scientists will continue to say that Dark Energy exists instead of trying to maybe think and say, ‘well maybe our base principles are a bit off’ and find the reality around us.

    8. New fossil evidence will show that the origins and evolution of man is more convoluted and less linear than expected.

    9. The Republican Right will continue to set science back decades as they literally preach to Americans about God, Christianity, and the evils of knowledge and Science.

    10. On December 22, 2012 most of us will wake up to a normal world and our normal lives and all those dimwits who are hiding underground or in caves expecting the end of days or rapture or armaggedon will look absolutely stupid and the people they believed will have a whole lotta ‘splaining to do!!!

  • Tintin

    @ 13. Dick

    ” “unsecured people”

    Tintin, I’m sure your meant “insecure people”, no?”

    I’m sure correcting my typing skills must have also made you feel superior. Anything to help the “unsecure.”

  • Chris

    #5 The pressure of a gas squeezed in a piston will rise inversely with the change in volume.

    This is completely wrong. This is only true for an ideal gas which assumes there is no volume to the gas molecules and zero intermolecular attraction. The van der Waals equation is the most common correction to the ideal gas law, however it has its problems at high pressures and low temperatures. The virial equation does the best, although it is a not that convenient to use.

  • Tintin

    @ 27

    WOW, Chris, we are all impressed with your knowledge of Physics 101 (2nd Semester)!

  • BigBangBoom

    Hey Chris,
    What’s your opinion on Faster than Light Neutrinos? How about making some real predictions. Will the Higgs be confirmed? etc. etc. Lots to really speculate about this year, don’t sit on the fence. We follow you for your science opinions not Physics 101.
    Wish you had more opinions about science (your field right?) and less about Theology and Politics where your opinions carry no more weight than anyone else.
    My prediction is we’ll have a great year and I hope you have a Happy New Year

  • Alan

    I predict that many people, including Chris the Canadian, will continue to use greengrocers’ apostrophes.

  • Low Math, Meekly Interacting

    sigh…

    Perhaps #5 just needs “to good approximation for gases not circa phase transition under conditions assayed”, as I’ve observed myself on numerous occasions.

  • tim Rowledge

    ‘unsecured people’ are to be secured properly in order to avoid refuting prediction #1 and thus demonstrating ‘Intelligent Falling’, therefore god(s).

  • http://makingenoughsenseofthecosmos.blogspot.com/ Andrew Wood

    An experimentally testable general theory of a nonlocally acting cause and its effects will show how we could live in a purposeful universe.

  • Alan

    I’d be interested to know whether Craig Hogan’s holometer, this year, shows (a) whether space has a limit to it at the smallest scales and (b) does this actually mean that 3D reality is really projected from some surrounding surface? How are the two related? Saw Leonard Susskind comment on this a short while back.

  • Justin Loe

    I wonder if #9 and #10 jointly apply to people with certain political beliefs.

  • Gizelle Janine

    I have a question, sort of off topic, and I refuse to wait for the next post to ask it:

    Could the laws of conservation have something to do with separating space and time? Is it possible that in order to separate space and time, you might need to think about relativity in terms of quantum mechanics and something like electromagnetism?

    These are all very abstract connections that may support the idea that F=ma might be a huge part of why you cant seem to separate space and time in relativity, and in the end solving problems associated with it. Things like geometry really become important, I presume, especally considering if you think about vectors as a form of energy that does some kind of physical “work, simply put. These all have solid connections somehow, I’m just curious to how this might work.

    What if we already seperate space and time physically just by the way we percieve both as independent from each other in any way? Maybe whatever makes us “percieve” time as numbers and “space” and something that automatically suggests it’s big and empty, seriously has something to do with the laws of conservation?

    (It’s more obvious to me using common sense that space and time are entangled with each other, and some force of resistance would be needed to seperate them in any way, locally or non-locally.)

  • Gizelle Janine

    “What if we already seperate space and time physically just by the way we percieve both as independent from each other in any way? Maybe whatever makes us “percieve” time as numbers and “space” *and something that automatically suggests it’s big and empty, seriously has something to do with the laws of conservation?”

    *Spelling error, I definitely meant “…as something.”I hate ipod keyboards sometimes. Laugh it up, clowns…

  • http://www.cthisspace.com Claire C Smith

    and all the waste in your garbage can will be blown down the street because an extra aeroplane was needed to take a bloke to work.

  • John R Ramsden

    Ooh great, a chance to nitpick.

    Re #3, I take it “planet” doesn’t include exoplanets. ;-P

  • jimvj

    The chancellor of UC Davis will not resign.

    The cops who sprayed the students will be similarly employed.

  • MKS

    Ah yes!

    How aboot ontological inertia will continue?

  • Chris Winter

    Alan wrote (#30): “I predict that many people, including Chris the Canadian, will continue to use greengrocers’ apostrophes.”

    I second that. However, I predict that none of them will tell us that the panda eats, shoots, and leaves.

  • Chris Winter

    #6: Electric charges in motion will give rise to magnetic fields.

    Yes, and changing magnetic fields will induce electric currents.

    As well, protons will not be found to decay; but neutrons will continue to do so when isolated.

  • chris

    well, #3 will only be approximate

    happy new year!

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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .

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