A little over a year ago, I had the extraordinary opportunity to work with scientists John Kovac, Jon Kaufman, Howard Hui, and others at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica (summary of my experience living and working at the south pole) on the BICEP2 and KECK Array Microwave Telescopes. Learning about how the telescopes worked, as well as the science behind what they were doing directly from the scientists involved was a great opportunity, and I was happy to be able to make my small contribution to the project.
“Researchers from the BICEP2 collaboration today announced the first direct evidence for this cosmic inflation. Their data also represent the first images of gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time. These waves have been described as the “first tremors of the Big Bang.” Finally, the data confirm a deep connection between quantum mechanics and general relativity.”
Astronomers are announcing today that they have acquired the first direct evidence that gravitational waves rippled through our infant universe during an explosive period of growth called inflation. This is the strongest confirmation yet of cosmic inflation theories, which say the universe expanded by 100 trillion trillion times, in less than the blink of an eye.
The findings were made with the help of NASA-developed detector technology on the BICEP2 telescope at the South Pole, in collaboration with the National Science Foundation.
“Operating the latest detectors in ground-based and balloon-borne experiments allows us to mature these technologies for space missions and, in the process, make discoveries about the universe,” said Paul Hertz, NASA’s Astrophysics Division director in Washington.
This morning, they announced their first set of results from Bicep2 at the Harvard Center for Astrophysics:
From Sean Carrol:
Monday morning: here are results! First, the best fit to r, the ratio of gravitational waves to density perturbations:
- BICEP2 2014 Results Release
- Sean Carrol: Gravitational Waves in the Cosmic Microwave Background
And a bit of press from around the web:
- Stamford Advocate: Evidence spotted for universe’s early growth spurt
- Huffington Post: Good Morning, Inflation! Hello, Multiverse!
- BBC: Cosmic inflation: ‘Spectacular’ discovery hailed
- NY Times: Detection of Waves in Space Buttresses Landmark Theory of Big Bang
Snowmobiling to the Dark Sector Laboratory
Physicist Jon Kaufman stands on top of the Martin A. Pomerantz Observatory.
Physicist Jon Kaufman gives me a tour of the BICEP2 Telescope..
Pics from working on KECK…