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Gravitational Waves and Inflation

by Mike Weaver

March 18, 2014

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Every now and then a discovery rolls in that really catches my eye. Just today, the team at the BICEP2 project announced that they may have detected gravitational waves within the cosmic microwave background. While the discovery has yet to be fully verified, many sources seem cautiously optimistic about it.

The BICEP2 (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization 2)project was looking for evidence of gravitational waves within cosmic microwave background radiation in the form of a specific kind of polarization called B-mode polarization. Not only would this be evidence for the existence of gravitational waves, but it would also be direct evidence for inflation. Inflation is the hypothesized rapid expansion of space in the moments after the big bang. It is theorized that, during the inflation period, space expanded at a rate many times faster than the speed of light. [1]

For those who prefer to go right to the source, and who doesn't, the BICEP2 findings are publicly available here:

Scientific American had a good write up on the release in this article by Clara Moskowitz. From the article:

Physicists have found a long-predicted twist in light from the big bang that represents the first image of ripples in the universe called gravitational waves, researchers announced today. The finding is direct proof of the theory of inflation, the idea that the universe expanded extremely quickly in the first fraction of a nanosecond after it was born. What's more, the signal is coming through much more strongly than expected, ruling out a large class of inflation models and potentially pointing the way toward new theories of physics, experts say.[2]

Cool stuff. I'm excited about this and hope it all pans out. Short and sweet, today, my friends.

Be well

Edit: Changed "gravity waves" to "gravitational waves"



by Mike Weaver

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