Mar 17 2014

Get a jump on the crowd

There’s supposed to be some gigantic announcement coming from the astronomy community today at noon. I think we’ve been burned by the hype a few times before (arsenic life, anyone?), but Sean Carroll thinks this might actually be a significant discovery about Gravitational Waves in the Cosmic Microwave Background. I had no idea what that meant — I’m a biologist, dammit — but Carroll gives a darn good explanation for why it matters. It has cosmological implications about the Big Bang and inflation.

Go read it yourself so that when the announcement comes down and everyone is looking baffled, you can nod sagely and explain to everyone around you what it means.


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  1. 1
    Gregory in Seattle

    There was an article in the September, 2013 issue of Scientific American that talked about some of the research, synopsis here. The article itself is behind the paywall, unfortunately.

  2. 2
    steve oberski

    You can be sure that no matter what new information we have on how our universe works, it will be proof that baby jebus is deeply concerned about what we do with our genitalia.

    And it was already predicted in the Koran, right beside the section on embryology.

  3. 3

    More evidence that inflation may have occurred. WLC will be working overtime to incorporate into Kalaam arguments in the future, to make sure we know that no matter what we find, goddidit.

  4. 4
    Bronze Dog

    I think I get the gist of what they’re looking at with those gravitational waves, but I’m missing the implications beyond verifying that the super-fast inflation during the first tiny factions of a second happened. Of course, another line of evidence verifying the cosmological model is worth plenty of celebration by itself.

  5. 5

    @4: It’s basically that, plus an indirect confirmation of General Relativity’s prediction of gravitational waves. Part of the reason this is so big is the questions it leads to. With direct evidence that inflation happens, it makes the question of what caused it all the more pressing. This could also potentially pave the way to differentiate between different models of inflation, to help us figure out exactly what it is.

    In short, science just made another step toward determining the actual origins of the universe. # of religions whose holy texts stated that the universe was created with a brief but important inflationary period: 0. Seriously, can we just rule religion falsified yet?

  6. 6

    Some days I feel like Arthur Dent.

    “I have detected,” he said, “disturbances in the wash.” …
    “The wash?” said Arthur.
    “The space-time wash,” said Ford. …
    Arthur nodded, and then cleared his throat. “Are we talking about,” he asked cautiously, “some sort of Vogon laundromat, or what are we talking about?”
    “Eddies,” said Ford, “in the space-time continuum.”
    “Ah,” nodded Arthur, “is he? Is he?” He pushed his hands into the pocket of his dressing gown and looked knowledgeably into the distance.
    “What?” said Ford.
    “Er, who,” said Arthur, “is Eddy, then, exactly, then?”

    Did I say “some days”? I suppose that’s an under-estimate.

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