An illustration of galaxies at the end of the era of reionisation

Credit: ESO

Understanding The Big Bang Breakthrough

March 18, 2014

In what some are calling a Nobel prize-worthy discovery, scientists reported Monday that they had found evidence of gravitational waves in the universe, helping confirm the theory of the Big Bang.  These waves, recorded from the South Pole are a look back into the universe's history - further than we've ever seen before. 

These articles dig deeper into what this finding really means:
--- PBS' It's Okay To Be Smart gives a layperson-friendly overview in "Catching A (Gravitational) Wave"
"Using a beefy-sounding telescope near the South Pole called “Bicep”, the scientists peered almost 14 billion years into the past, studying the Cosmic Microwave Background, that distant radiation left over from the beginning of the universe itself, its wavelength stretched from unthinkably hot plasma to chilly microwaves as our universe expanded from a subatomic scale to the vastness of today."
"Until now, inflation was a great idea—a critical one to understand the evolution of the Universe from the very first moment after its birth to the huge structures and details we see today—with no direct evidence. Now we have direct evidence."
--- New Scientist rounds up what else the findings could mean in First glimpse of big bang ripples from universe's birth
"Intriguingly, the BICEP2 result matches predictions for what physicists call grand unification theory. At the very high energy suggested by BICEP2, three fundamental forces in physics – the strong, weak and electromagnetic forces – should have been merged into one force. As the universe cooled and energy scales dropped, the strong force was the first to peel off from this merger, and previous theories suggested that event could have triggered inflation."
Sky & Telescope explains what this doesn't cover in "First Direct Evidence of Big Bang Inflation"
"The results do not tell us what set inflation in motion, only that it happened. Nor do they answer the question of whether inflation is eternal, setting off an endless series of big bangs and creating pocket universes. This cosmological landscape is usually referred to as themultiverse."

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