BICEP, the Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization, is an experiment that used almost 100 detectors to scan the sky at microwave frequencies ( 100 GHz and 150 GHz, angular resolutions of 1.0° and 0.7°) in order to measure the polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB).
From their location (near competing experiments) at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station they have been working toward what sounds like a simple goal - to try and get firm evidence of the cosmic microwave background at the moment after the Big Bang. The hypothesis of an inflationary epoch - where the size of the universe underwent exponential expansion during its first 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000001 (10 -38) second - and recent observations suggesting just that, mean the hunt has been on to find evidence of ancient gravitational waves Einstein predicted.
An upcoming press conference means we might be close to getting some confirmation, which would bring us a step closer to ruling out other models of the early universe.
It's not as easy as it sounds. Finding a gravity wave background (GWB) in all that data, and factoring in the effects of gravitational lensing (matter - energy density - can curve spacetime and that can deflect the path of a ray of light) in how it is polarized after all this time, is daunting. The ability of gravitational lensing to create a false GWB signal, along with galactic dust and synchrotron polarized emissions, mean that the results will undergo heavy scrutiny, including by competing researchers who are searching for the exact same thing.
Comparison of estimated polarized foregrounds from synchrotron (magenta), vibrational dust (red), rotational dust (blue), and point source emission (green) from the "middle of the road" Tegmark et al. (1999) model. The shaded regions indicate where the foregrounds contribute more than 0.8 µK. Credit and link: Caltech
At 9 AM Pacific Time on Monday, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics is going to make an announcement and what they might reveal is just speculation and rumor. University College London astronomer Hiranya Peiris gave Stuart Clark at The Guardian a great quote: "But if they do have a robust detection … Jesus, wow! I'll be taking next week off."
There's a lot that can go wrong, of course, supraluminal (faster than light) neutrionos taught the lesson quite recently that nature is not going down without a fight, but it could be exciting stuff.
BICEP - Caltech Observational Cosmology Group
H/T Real Clear Science
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- A Dimuon Particle At 30 GeV In ALEPH ??
- President Obama, Why Humans On Mars Right Now Are Bad For Science
- A Racist On The Jews: Let The Donald Trump!
- DDoS war: How zombie fridges bit the internet in the a$$ today.
- Journalists - Please Fact Check Your "Doomsday" News Stories -They Terrify Young Children And Vulnerable People
- Metaphors in Quantum Mechanics
- IPhone Lab Detects Cancer, May Lead To Instant Diagnosis
- "You may find this interesting?http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/07/25/how-the-west-was-won/..."
- "what the fuck you was drinking? I am an Arab Muslim, but and I understand you dislike for the stupid..."
- "Thanks Dr. Durig, for this article. I am very much interested in the topic of Self-awareness and..."
- "The only people who are in for a shock are the people who believe in it, when nothing happens...."
- "Oh, okay, you need to understand a bit about how solar systems form. It starts with a condensing..."
- The Math of Hunting and Fishing: When to Work Together
- Placebo: Bubbles Of Nothing Are Still Not Something
- People Who Take Drugs May Be Likelier to Commit Suicide
- Improved 'Screen Time' Guidelines Could Make Parents & Kids Happier
- Dr. Jamie Wells Named One Of America's Top Pediatricians
- Why Did EPA Delay Its Glyphosate Safety Report?