Proofing BICEP2

Inflation—the hypothesis that the Universe underwent a phase of superluminal expansion in a brief period following the big bang—has the potential of explaining, from first principles, why the Universe has the structure we see today. It could also solve outstanding puzzles of standard big-bang cosmology, such as why the Universe is, to a very good approximation, flat and isotropic (i.e., it looks the same in all directions). Yet we do not yet have a compelling model, based on fundamental particle physics principles, that explains inflation. And despite its explanatory power and a great deal of suggestive evidence, we still lack an unambiguous and direct probe of inflation. Theorists have developed different models for inflation, which all share a common, robust prediction: Inflation would have created a background of gravitational waves that could have an observable effect. These waves would cause subtle, characteristic distortions of the cosmic microwave background (CMB)—the oldest light in the Universe, released when photons decoupled from matter and the Universe became transparent to radiation. Viewpoint: Peering Back to the Beginning of Time

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First Direct Evidence of Cosmic Inflation

Almost 14 billion years ago, the universe we inhabit burst into existence in an extraordinary event that initiated the Big Bang. In the first fleeting fraction of a second, the universe expanded exponentially, stretching far beyond the view of our best telescopes. All this, of course, was just theory.

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 LSC Congratulates BICEP2 Colleagues

 

18 March 2014 – The BICEP2 Collaboration result, if confirmed, is a landmark discovery in cosmology, allowing us for the first time to peer back almost to the moment of the Big Bang through the observation of the imprint of primordial gravitational waves on the cosmic microwave background. The LIGO Scientific Collaboration congratulates our BICEP colleagues on their accomplishment and will further follow discoveries and implications of these observations with great interest. – See more at: http://www.ligo.org/news/bicep-result.php#sthash.mJlemItG.dpuf

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