Waves from the Big Bang
March 17, 2014 8:30 AM Subscribe
"The detection of gravitational waves in the afterglow of the Big Bang — if confirmed — opens a new chapter in astronomy, cosmology and physics. The signature, seen by the BICEP2 radio telescope at the South Pole, packs at least three discoveries into one: It provides the most direct evidence for the existence of the waves predicted by Einstein; it is the proof of ‘cosmic inflation’ that physicists had been eagerly awaiting; and it opens a window into the unification of the fundamental forces of nature and into quantum gravity." NYT article
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, in depth Nature News feature
Note the prominent caveat, "if confirmed": while the result seems robust, it is in significant conflict with an indirect measurement based on temperature maps of the cosmic background by the Planck satellite and other assumptions about the universe. Something will have to be revised. Meanwhile: "[o]n Monday, Dr. Guth’s starship came in. Radio astronomers reported that they had seen the beginning of the Big Bang, and that his hypothesis, known undramatically as inflation, looked right."