An easily digestible look at this week’s biggest science news story:
So what exactly is this ‘BICEP2’ that has received a storm of media attention this week? The name actually refers to a telescope in Antarctica where, due to having skies free from any light pollution and very few clouds, scientists have been able to see clearly enough into space to make an amazing discovery. Most likely a nobel-prize winning discovery!
For a long time there has been a theory that our universe formed via inflation; that in a teeny tiny moment (we’re talking waaaay less than a second), just after time began, the universe grew by an incomprehensible amount. The force of this occurring would be so strong that gravitational waves would be left rippling along the oldest points of the universe even billions of years after the event. Therefore logic would say that if you find these waves, you have proof that inflation occurred immediately after the Big Bang.
These gravitational waves are exactly what researchers in Antarctica think they found and are displayed in a visual form as ripples above! Finding these also gives strength to the multiverse theory which predicts that the force of inflation causes many other smaller universes to constantly ‘pop’ into existence.
There’s another really cool thing about the discovery: gravitational waves were the last piece of Einstein’s theory of general relativity to be proven, a quest that has kept physicist and cosmologists busy for decades!
I feel I must add a disclaimer saying that this discovery has not been peer reviewed by other scientists or been written up for a scientific journal yet. So some skepticism is wise at this moment in time. Yet people’s heads have been turned around the world and hopefully further evidence will be gathered soon.