Our US readers will be aware that April is Mathematics Awareness Month (MAM) – and this year’s event has as its theme “The Future of Prediction”. Making predictions is tough, as Yogi Berra once observed.* But sometimes they pay off, especially when predictions are grounded in robust theory and mathematics.
Gravitational waves are a case in point. First predicted a century ago by Albert Einstein as part of his general theory of relativity, these ripples in spacetime were detected last year, and their discovery announced to the world in February.
Confirming Einstein’s predictions was largely the job of physicists and technicians. However, statisticians did their bit too. As discussed by Renate Meyer and Nelson Christensen, it was through Bayesian inference that we were able to learn more about the phenomena that created these gravitational waves.