Big News for the Big Bang

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on March 18, 2014 in Large Hadron Collider, Nature, Physics, Technology |

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you might have noticed I stray from the writerly and motherly topics to science every so often. Black holes, the Large Hadron Collider, and the Big Bang are among some of my favorite topics.

While the first two episodes of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey linger, unwatched on my DVR (because the hubby and I want to watch them together and haven’t been able to find a time where we both have the mental acuity to actually enjoy them), a big scientific discovery about the Big Bang occurred just yesterday. No, I’m not talking about how it was recently announced that The Big Bang Theory was renewed for three more seasons (though that was pretty exciting news), I’m talking possible world-changing scientific news.

So picture a group of scientist in the South Pole gazing out into the depths of the heavens via a very powerful telescope called BICEP2. Now imagine they look so far and deep that they discovers very old light waves (as in nearly 14 billion years old), like the oldest light waves to ever have been detected. Well, you don’t really have to imagine it because that is exactly what they did.

It is believed that they detected cosmic microwave signals that show what happened shortly after the Big Bang. In short the Big Bang theory says that in a very, very, very, very miniscule moment in time, a hot, dense, teeny tiny singularity (which held all the matter and energy in the universe) expanded rapidly and in seconds stretched across space to create the universe, which we know is still expanding.

In order for that theory to hold water, something called cosmic inflation had to occur. Cosmic inflation is what happened just after the initial Big Bang, in which the universe went from essentially nothing to something 100 trillion trillion times that size in a ridiculously small amount of time, and the rapid (which I think is an understatement here) moment (which is an overstatement here) of expansion slowed to a pace closer to what we experience now in the universe.

Of course (as so many of our modern physics theories do), this idea stems back to Einstein theory of relativity, but had never been able to be proven. However, with the observation of these very old light waves, scientists believe we now have evidence of cosmic inflation. So it seems we have new insight into the birth of universe, which is certainly a very exciting moment indeed.

A few articles of further reading are in these articles: “A New Window On The Big Bang Has Been Opened” and “Big Bang, Inflation, Gravitational Waves: What It Means”. I leave you with this (lighter) explanation of the universe as provided by The Barenaked Ladies, a video that is one of The Boy’s favorite things to watch (perhaps he’s a little scientist in the making!).

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