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We Now Have Direct Evidence Of The Big Bang And Cosmic Inflation

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cosmic inflationYesterday, the internet was abuzz with rumors about today’s scheduled announcement from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Many people predicted — correctly, as it turns out — that the announcement would involve the detection of gravitational waves. What’s so important about these waves? Well, they’re the first direct evidence we’ve ever found of the Big Bang and the resulting expansion of the universe.

For a long time now, scientists have been looking for gravitational waves using the BICEP telescope (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization), but in the noise of all the cosmic microwaves, they hadn’t been able to find them…until now. The discovery has, ironically, been called the “holy grail of cosmology,” and some predict this discovery to garner a Nobel Prize.

SPT-and-BICEP2_l

When the Big Bang created our universe nearly 14 billion years ago, it caused these gravitational waves. To say our universe grew rapidly during that time would be an understatement — it exploded into being during what scientists refer to as “inflation.” The universe grew by 100 trillion trillion times in far less time than it took me to write this sentence.

What a dividend for the BICEP project, which deployed its special telescope in the South Pole from 2005-2008, and which has been sifting through the data ever since. The video below shows the cosmic microwaves in the sky. The BICEP website indicates that recent observations “hinted strongly” at the inflation mentioned above, but were “not sufficient to rule out other models of the early universe.” Well, they are now — time to update your website! What was missing in those earlier observations was the detection of the gravity-wave background, which could only result from inflation. And that’s exactly what they found.

BICEP2

BICEP2

The gravitational waves resulting from the expansion are still rippling across the universe, but were thought too weak to detect. However, the BICEP telescope was able to capture images of those gravitational waves from nearly 400,000 years after they began to spread through the universe, back when there were no stars or planets. The existence of the gravitational waves proves gravity’s quantum nature, and they also prove Einstein (specifically his theory of relativity) right — again. It will be interesting to see how physicists react to this, given that they’ve never quite been able to reconcile Einstein’s theory with quantum physics. Apparently the strength of the detected signals may lead toward new physics theories altogether. I’m sure scientists’ enthusiasm will be reignited in their quest to sort it out, though. The post-Big Bang inflation also explains the universe’s apparent uniform appearance and is consistent with a slew of other cosmic theories that haven’t been directly proven.

I only wish this evidence had come to light before Bill Nye debated Ken Ham.

Comments

  1. smallmindedcrackpot says:

    So just to start strat some controversy. How does proving that the universe was created from a central source make it any less likely to be an ordered universe designed by a entity or force we have no way of detecting or measuring? If a God were to exist and he could create a infinite universe would not the traces of the creation match pretty much exactly to what science would expect to find based on the laws of that created universe? Science saying that this or any other scientific discovery proves the non-existence of god or other outside force shaping the universe is as bad as religious nutters saying that ay science that goes against their beliefs is evil or wrong.

    • Boredashell says:

      Unless I missed something this particular article is not debating the existence, or lack thereof of any particular deity. While you have every right to take it off on a tangent along with anyone who wishes to argue for or against this view – it would be nice to see one article on recent scientific breakthroughs which does not have a comments section overflowing with irrelevant atheist/theist arguments.

      • Strife says:

        Thank you so much for this, Boredashell. I am seriously tired of atheist vs. theist on every place trying to spark up stuff. Not every step we go ahead in discovering what’s happening is done for the sake of atheism or theism… if there was a definite answer from science on God or no God I think it would have been posted as news. That makes me kinda agree with smallmindedcrackpot, but you know what.. theists vs. atheists is becoming something more of a shout-fact-opinion exchange than actual debate. I very much agree with smallmindedcrackpot, but I also agree with you. I condemn mentioning the entire topic. ;-;

      • Victor Shade says:

        Well Bored, the article did end with this: “I only wish this evidence had come to light before Bill Nye debated Ken Ham.” So while the article didn’t mention anything about God, this little jab makes it appear that the author thinks that this discovery somehow “proves” or lessens the likelihood of God creating the universe. I don’t see how it does as this fits in nicely with God creating everything.

        • moon_bucket says:

          The point wasn’t god. Ken Ham think the universe is only 6,000 years old or so. He believes this based on counting up generations listed in the bible. This result measures an effect from 13.7 billion years ago and clearly would make Ham uncomfortable.

        • Dandru says:

          Nice job completely misconstruing the article. The comment wasn’t about God’s existence. It was about the absurd notion that the universe is only 6,000 years old. This discovery disproves it.

      • Insanemal says:

        Actually yes they did.

        Last line of the article

        “I only wish this evidence had come to light before Bill Nye debated Ken Ham.”

        What relevance does this opinion of the article writer have to the awesomeness of the discovery. That is just comment bait.

        • Dandru says:

          Nice job comNice job completely misconstruing the article. The comment wasn’t about God’s existence. It was about the absurd notion that the universe is only 6,000 years old. This discovery disproves it.

    • moon_bucket says:

      What this does is suggest a multiverse. Possibly infinite universes. A multiverse is important to atheism because it gives you a specific model that allows multiple throws of the dice to generate the right kind of universe for people. Something that a Christian apologist like William Lane Craig would even admit is a requirement for naturalistic explanations. So while there was no specific mention of the subject in this article it could have metaphysical implications.

  2. sounder says:

    Those gravitational waves is still a guess. Something else may be found later.