Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Cosmic Waves of Discovery

Summary: Scientists at the BICEP2 collaboration at the South Pole have detected signal that confirm theories of the rapid expansion of the universe immediately after the big bang. If validated by other experiments (which is likely to happen as the signal found is actually stronger than predicted) this confirms a super-rapid expansion within the first instants of the universe before "slowing down" to rapid expansion. What they found were twists in Cosmic Radiation Background that could have only been produced by gravitational waves.

So what does this mean? These signals tell astronomers that gravity was present during this time in which quantum effects dominated the, then very tiny, universe. This gives us greater hope that the Four Fundamental Forces can be one day combined into a unified Theory of Everything which could better describe conditions at the big bang.

BBC News
Minute Physics video explaining the discovery
Discussion on background and implications
Video of the founding scientists hearing the news


  1. Does this really "confirm" inflation or is it simply consistent with that theory? I (think I) understand why the theory is necessary, but I've always scratched my head about how one should really believe it is true.

    1. After reading the article a few times I think it does confirm inflation. The key that confirms it is the unique fingerprint of the Gravitational waves on the CMB. This does not tell us all the details of the inflation, but it does confirm that there was a period of incredibly rapid expansion at the beginning. The Minute Physics video explains that a bit more.
      I believe it also confirms that Gravity was a separate force in the time period when quantum ruled. This is in line with the theory of Grand Unification which gives us hope for finding a Theory of Everything.