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I know I should be skeptical of popular science reporting (much less glorified press releases ), but until Stephen Barr clarifies that this is much ado about nothing I’m gonna go ahead and let myself believe that an undergrad intern really did find some of the universe’s “missing mass”:

A Monash student has made a breakthrough in the field of astrophysics, discovering what has until now been described as the Universe’s ‘missing mass’. Amelia Fraser-McKelvie, working within a team at the Monash School of Physics, conducted a targeted X-ray search for the matter and within just three months found it — or at least some of it.

What makes the discovery all the more noteworthy is the fact that Ms Fraser-McKelvie is not a career researcher, or even studying at a postgraduate level. She is a 22-year-old undergraduate Aerospace Engineering/Science student who pinpointed the missing mass during a summer scholarship, working with two astrophysicists at the School of Physics, Dr Kevin Pimbblet and Dr Jasmina Lazendic-Galloway.

The School of Physics put out a call for students interested in a six-week paid astrophysics research internship during a recent vacation period, and chose Ms Fraser-McKelvie from a large number of applicants. Dr Pimbblet, lecturer in the School of Physics put the magnitude of the discovery in context by explaining that scientists had been hunting for the Universe’s missing mass for decades.

Here is an example of conversations that this young lady will be having for the rest of her life:

Graduate Admissions Officer: “So, Ms. Fraser-McKelvie, would you mind telling the committee how you spent your summer break?”

Amelia Fraser-McKelvie: “Well, let’s see, I hung out with friends, spent a lot of time at the beach getting a tan, finished reading the last book in the Hunger Games series, and . . . oh yeah, I almost forgot: I discovered the missing parts of our universe .”

The only “That ain’t nothing . . . ” story that could trump this one would be ” I walked on the moon .”

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