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Of Particular Significance

BICEP2: New Evidence Of Cosmic Inflation!

17 Mar 2014, 15:09 UTC
BICEP2: New Evidence Of Cosmic Inflation!
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[For your reference if you can't follow this post: My History of the Universe, and a primer to help you understand what's going on today.]
I’m still updating this post as more information comes in and as I understand more of what’s in the BICEP2 paper and data. Talking to and listening to experts, I’d describe the mood as cautiously optimistic; some people are worried about certain weird features of the data, while others seem less concerned about them… typical when a new discovery is claimed. I’m disturbed that the media is declaring victory before the scientific community is ready to. That didn’t happen with the Higgs discovery, where the media was, wisely, far more patient.
The Main Data
Here’s BICEP2′s data! The black dots at the bottom of this figure, showing evidence of B-mode polarization both at small scales (“Multipole” >> 100, where it is due to gravitational lensing of E-mode polarization) and at large scales (“Multipole” << 100, where it is potentially due to gravitational waves from a period of cosmic inflation preceding the Hot Big Bang.) All the other dots on the figure are from other experiments, including the original BICEP, which only put upper bounds on ...

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