From the April 2011 issue

High confidence

June 2011: How much of the cosmos do scientists actually understand with certainty?
By | Published: April 25, 2011 | Last updated on May 18, 2023

This was originally going to be a column about M87, the amazing ball-shaped galaxy at the heart of the Virgo cluster. It’s got everything a lover of strange would adore, like a federal-deficit-sized black hole and a blue jet gushing from its west side at seemingly 5 times the speed of light. But checking the latest M87 research, I kept finding experts saying, “We don’t yet know …” and “We’re not certain if …” This brought up a different topic: confidence.