What If the Universe Didn’t Start With the Big Bang?
Last week, researchers using the Planck spacecraft to study the skies announced that the polarization of light spotted by the BICEP2 experiment could be entirely explained by dust swirling around the Milky Way. This news was a bucket of cold water on the theories of many cosmologists: It meant that BICEP2 might not have been […]
Excitement Over Gravity Waves Comes Crashing Down
The Dark Sector Lab includes the BICEP2 telescope, seen on the left.BICEP Keck Science giveth, and science taketh away. What appeared earlier this year to be a long-sought glimpse of ancient ripples in spacetime now seems to have been schmutz in astronomers’ eyes. In March, sky-gazers using a telescope at the South Pole called BICEP2 […]
Is Our Universe Like Oil & Vinegar or Homogenized Milk?
Is our Universe inhomogeneous, lumpy and uneven on many size scales, like oil droplets in water?via Shutterstock In the earliest moments after the Big Bang, the Universe was a turbulent mess, a high-temperature stew of quantum fluctuations. As with turbulence in water, the fluctuations acted at every level: If you could imagine observing the […]
The Father of Inflation Clears Up a Big Misunderstanding
Last week researchers working on the BICEP2 experiment in Antarctica announced that they’d seen solid evidence of gravitational waves that emerged very early in the Universe’s history. This discovery lent support to inflation, a theory of cosmology long popular among physicists but still lacking in direct proof. (To learn more about the recent discovery and […]
Over the Universe—The Best Reactions to the Big Physics News
These swirls in the cosmic microwave background show the effect of primordial gravitational waves.BICEP2 Scientists, on the whole, are a circumspect lot. When faced with a microphone or reporter’s notepad, most of them (excepting a vocal minority) hedge and temper their language, adding provisos and qualifications, burying significant news behind accurate but unexciting jargon. So […]
Universal Remoteness: What the Multiverse Means About Us
Our Universe is vast and mostly empty. Even if many of the billions of planets we suspect are out there have life, most of the cosmos is uninhabitable, and those worlds are unreachable by any means we know. That’s just within our galaxy, which is one of about 100 billion in the part of the […]