Did Isaac Newton Need Peer Review?

Scholarly Journals Swear By This Practice of Expert Evaluation. But It’s a New Phenomenon That Isn’t the Only Way To Establish the Facts.

Last month, scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced a finding that could be one of the most important scientific discoveries of the 21st century. BICEP 2, their microwave telescope in the South Pole, detected a distortion that appears to be gravitational waves—ripples in space that are thought to be the first direct confirmation that our universe quickly “inflated” after the Big Bang. The findings, if confirmed, could answer some of science’s most fundamental questions about how the universe was formed.

The announcement hit every major media organization within hours. …