Detection of early inflation

A team of scientists has announced that they have detected direct evidence for one of the key elements of the inflationary model of the universe, that there was a rapid rate of expansion soon after ‘the beginning’, i.e., at times shortly after t=0. They did this by using a radiotelescope located at the South Pole called BICEP2, looking for signs of the imprint in the cosmic microwave background caused by gravitational waves triggered by the event.

The journal Nature provides basic information about the announcement and gravitational waves and how they were detected, and provides the helpful video below. In addition to providing evidence of inflation, it also provides indirect evidence for the existence of gravitational waves. There are currently experiments to look for direct evidence of such waves.


  1. Matt G says

    Apparently even Einstein thought it might be impossible to directly detect gravitational waves.

  2. Guest from Holland says

    What are the implications for Turok and Steinhardt’s cyclical / colliding branes model? Having read their book (Endless Universe) I got the impression that they wouldn’t expect these ‘primordial’ gravitational waves, so their model would be dead in the water, right?

  3. Mano Singham says

    This discovery will eliminate some models. I don’t know about the Turok-Steinhardt one. I will have to await some authoritative take on the implications.

  4. sailor1031 says

    @3: perhaps that is why Steinhardt is treating this report with caution.

    In addition to providing evidence of inflation, it also provides indirect evidence for the existence of gravitational waves

    – a bit of circular reasoning?

  5. Guest from Holland says

    Not quite circular. As I understand it, the B-mode signal in the CMB is evidence for primordial gravitatonal waves, which the in their turn are evidence for inflation. Maybe your quote got a bit messed up. Do you have a link?

    I ran across this article:

    which quotes Turok as admitting that “such a universe would be ruled out by the new result (if confirmed), although more recent modifications of the theory might still be viable.”

  6. Guest from Holland says

    PS: to be clear, the universe Turok refers to as “such a universe” is indeed his and Steinhardt’s cyclical model.


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