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  • Cosmic Inflation, Biggest Science News of the Century?

    BICEP2: New Evidence Of Cosmic Inflation! Biggest Science News of 2014?

    Some specific gravitational evidence on the beginning of 'our neck of the woods'. Multple layers of explanation at, among others Professor Strasseler's blog (which I read regularly)

    http://profmattstrassler.com/

  • #2
    Re: BICEP2:Cosmic Inflation, Biggest Science News of 2014?

    How we doing on that Unified field Theory?!

    The last explanation I saw for gravity is that large objects displace space-time, creating depressions where they are, which things then slide down into (aka 'falling'). Cool!

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    • #3
      Re: BICEP2:Cosmic Inflation, Biggest Science News of 2014?

      The only prior [1993] (also indirect) detection of gravity waves come from the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the slowing down of the rotation of two stars, one of which is a extremely dense pulsar, just as predicted by (Einstein's version of) General Relativity.

      Tony (Racz) Rotz | March 17, 2014 at 2:54 PM | Reply

      I have read that if we could study gravitational waves we could learn much more about the very earliest eras of the universe, perhaps what happened at the very beginning. How? What information would they provide, or is it all speculative?

      Matt Strassler | March 17, 2014 at 3:07 PM | Reply

      That’s exactly what happened today. BICEP2 is indirectly detecting gravitational waves, and those waves are telling us about what may have preceded and generated the Hot Big Bang itself. That’s usually what people mean when they say “the very earliest eras”.

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      • #4
        Re: BICEP2:Cosmic Inflation, Biggest Science News of 2014?

        Originally posted by Marlow
        How we doing on that Unified field Theory?!
        Much better, given this announcement. This new data provides an incredible compass for exploring the "right" theories of the early universe. It also gets rid of a number of other ones that just don't stack up, but have evaded experimental axes.

        The last explanation I saw for gravity is that large objects displace space-time, creating depressions where they are, which things then slide down into (aka 'falling'). Cool!
        Before anyone goes too far with this analogy, one must remember things don't "slide" into the "depressions," because that implies gravity pulls them in -- but gravity is *caused* by the curvature of spacetime. So the "rubber sheet" idea is great for visualization, but that's about it. What really happens is: objects in "free fall" travel along straight lines in spacetime. The curvature changes the apparent direction and shape of the "straight" lines -- but they are still straight in the curved geometry. That's gravity.

        Gravitational waves are ripples of spacetime created by highly-energetic events. The four main sources are the (1) merger of two black holes (or two neutron stars), (2) fast-spinning neutron stars (pulsars), (3) supernovae, and (4) primordial gravitational waves from the big bang. The BICEP telescope has detected *indirect* evidence for #4, called "b-mode polarization". This is distinct from the type of polarization we'd expect from electromagnetic radiation (light), because of the nature of gravitational waves. Briefly, polarization modes of light are at right angles to each other, while gravitational waves are polarized at 45 degrees to each other.

        Direct evidence for gravitational waves is expected to happen sometime in the coming few years by a collaboration called LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory).

        The BIG thing here, however, is the evidence for inflation -- the idea that when the universe was a tiny fraction of a second old, it expanded uncontrollably for some unknown reason from the size of an atom to a sphere 1 metre in diameter. The way the primordial gravitational waves are imprinted give us excellent information on this process, for which we've never had hard evidence before.

        Here's a blog from Max Tegmark, a cosmologist at MIT:

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/max-tegma ... 76707.html

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        • #5
          Re: BICEP2:Cosmic Inflation, Biggest Science News of 2014?

          Here is Tegmarks opening (more grandiose than my biggest news of 2014):

          I'm writing this from the Harvard press conference announcing what I consider to be one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time. Within the hour, it will be all over the web, and before long, it will lead to at least one Nobel Prize. But what precisely is it that the BICEP2 experiment has discovered during years of sky-gazing from the South Pole?

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          • #6
            Re: BICEP2:Cosmic Inflation, Biggest Science News of 2014?

            I read something about the recent "gravity wave" discovery.. without understanding a word.. but it did raise some questions for me...
            Presumably this happened a bazillion light years ago. Is it just now reaching us or are will just now recognizing it? ....Is it ongoing?.... Does it solve some long standing mystery/question?What effect, if any, did/will this event have on the future of our planet.. and others?

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            • #7
              Re: BICEP2:Cosmic Inflation, Biggest Science News of 2014?

              Don't know why but when I saw this thread title I immediately thought of our 230lb 6' sprinter friend . . .

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              • #8
                Re: BICEP2:Cosmic Inflation, Biggest Science News of 2014?

                I will try some of the questions. Since it happened 'everywhere in 'our universe' it happened 'right here'. It is a bit like the 'cosmic background radiation' [CMB] where the early universe became cool enough at 370,000 years after the Big Bang so that electrons could stay with an atomic nucleus instead of just zinning around and so the light at that point could travel through space. At that point the temperature was 3000 degrees Kelvin (2700 C). Since then the expansion of the universe cooled that radiation to about 2.7 Deg K and it suffuses all of space and gets picked up by receivers. You probably got some on your TV screen decades ago because if a TV was turned on with no signal, you got this 'noise' (little random dots and a hiss); about 10% of that is the CMB. It is very, but not quite completely smoothly distributed, and that slight variation is a signal from [almost] the earliest of times of quantum fluctuations that were, as it turns out, crucial for getting things to 'clump' so that they made stars and galaxies. [75% of 'stuff' was hydrogen, 25% Helium, and a 'smidge' was Lithium, I think.

                The gravity hypothesis: At the point of Inflation the effects of 'dark energy' (cosmological constant, etc.) result in a huge 'release' (not quite right, see Strassler, op. cit. [http://profmattstrassler.com/article...f-the-universe]). The gravity waves detected where from that monumentous 'transformation'. The tricky thing is that they cannot detect the gravity waves direct (gravity is so weak compared to the other forces that it is not directly detectable yet) but can detect the effect of the waves because they give a systematic (rather than completely random) polarization to the magnetic component of the electo-magnetic waves (light from the CMB) and the detected signal is 'exactly' as predicted by the theory (about 6-7 'sigma' or "signal to noise ratio").

                It is the strongest indication yet that the most popular theory of Inflation right at the beginning is correct. It has always solved a substantial number of problems (e.g., how did the CMB get so smooth, ...) but this is an entirely new confirmation. It also knocks out a number of competing theories of the beginning (including cyclical universe theories), including some other variants of Inflation.

                Another key aspect is that it takes gravity, which has been a theory of the larger (and extremely large) and gives it a quantum component. No direct effects on us or the planet, but important for the understanding of core of physics and how the universe is constructed and the laws of nature.

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                • #9
                  BICEP2:Cosmic Inflation, Biggest Science News of the Century

                  Measurements were made at the radio telescope at the South Pole, which is high, cold and very dry (so moisture does not obscure the signal); this is a long time in development, although I think the specific project might have only been in the last three years. There are other teams making such measurements using a variety of techniques, plus the satellite data, which is being processed and might be ready any time (they were anxious to get this out first). There seems to be a general notion that the other teams will find something similar even though previous efforts have not had enough precision to make adequate measurements. But if not, then it does not quite count until verified... Nobel Prizes on hold.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Cosmic Inflation, Biggest Science News of the Century?

                    Fascinating stuff. One doesn't have to be a professional astrophysicist to be at least moderately intrigued.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Cosmic Inflation, Biggest Science News of the Century?

                      :shock: :?
                      I admire the folks that figured this out.... and will take your word for it

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                      • #12
                        Re: BICEP2:Cosmic Inflation, Biggest Science News of 2014?

                        Originally posted by lonewolf
                        Does it solve some long standing mystery/question?What effect, if any, did/will this event have on the future of our planet.. and others?
                        Television, GPS, digital cameras and much more are all based on Einstein's work, yet 100 years ago nobody could have told you "Yeah, we're gonna use his theories for a lot of really cool stuff".

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                        • #13
                          Re: Cosmic Inflation, Biggest Science News of the Century?

                          I wish Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku could take place in this conversation :lol:

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                          • #14
                            Re: Cosmic Inflation, Biggest Science News of the Century?

                            I'm still amazed/intrigued/confused at the sperm and the egg. Obviously not ready for something that far out there.

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