We may have “smoking gun” evidence the universe expanded with unmatchable speed in its earliest moments. So what does this mean? Three theoretical physicists -- Daniel Baumann, Michael S. Turner and Paul Steinhardt -- consider the evidence, its implications and the next steps.
For decades, theorists have speculated that in its very first moments, our universe underwent a mind-bogglingly fast expansion that took it from the diminutive size of a proton to a vast expanse. Earlier this year, scientists announced a stunning development: what may be the first “smoking gun” evidence in support of this theory.
How certain is this result and, if it’s corroborated, what does it mean for our theories of how the universe works? Three leading theorists spoke recently with The Kavli Foundation about the implications of these results on our understanding of the early universe.
“To have the signal come in basically as big as it could be—bigger even—was just amazing,” said theorist Michael S. Turner, Director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) and the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. “We’re used to cosmology awing us, but this time it shocked us as well.”
Daniel Baumann, a lecturer in theoretical physics at Cambridge University whose research focuses on inflation and string theory, agreed: “My initial reaction was also shock and awe. I was intellectually prepared for these experiments, …but somehow in my gut I wasn’t prepared to have a signal that was as big as it actually was.”
“My concern at the moment is that it’s not yet clear whether or not they got it right,” said Paul Steinhardt, the Albert Einstein Professor in Science and Director of the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science at Princeton University. “They’ve definitely seen something. But deciding whether it’s due to gravitational waves produced in the early universe or due to some source in the foreground that’s between us and where the microwave background was emitted, that’s a key issue.”
More than half a dozen experiments around the world are now seeking to confirm BICEP2’s result in other frequencies and in other regions of the sky. The participants agreed that if these experiments find a similar signal and its shape matches what’s expected, that will be solid proof of cosmic inflation. In addition, the opportunity would exist to see subtle surprises in the signal that could lead to the discovery of new physics.
The complete discussion is available on The Kavli Foundation website: http://www.kavlifoundation.org/science-spotlights/theory-cosmic-inflation-bicep2
James Cohen | newswise
Flying Laptop satellite mission extended by two years - Successfully in orbit since July 14, 2017
16.07.2019 | Universität Stuttgart
Robert Alfano team identifies new 'Majorana Photons'
16.07.2019 | City College of New York
Scientists at the University Würzburg and University Hospital of Würzburg found that megakaryocytes act as “bouncers” and thus modulate bone marrow niche properties and cell migration dynamics. The study was published in July in the Journal “Haematologica”.
Hematopoiesis is the process of forming blood cells, which occurs predominantly in the bone marrow. The bone marrow produces all types of blood cells: red...
For some phenomena in quantum many-body physics several competing theories exist. But which of them describes a quantum phenomenon best? A team of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Harvard University in the United States has now successfully deployed artificial neural networks for image analysis of quantum systems.
Is that a dog or a cat? Such a classification is a prime example of machine learning: artificial neural networks can be trained to analyze images by looking...
An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bayreuth has produced a previously unknown material: Rhenium nitride pernitride. Thanks to combining properties that were previously considered incompatible, it looks set to become highly attractive for technological applications. Indeed, it is a super-hard metallic conductor that can withstand extremely high pressures like a diamond. A process now developed in Bayreuth opens up the possibility of producing rhenium nitride pernitride and other technologically interesting materials in sufficiently large quantity for their properties characterisation. The new findings are presented in "Nature Communications".
The possibility of finding a compound that was metallically conductive, super-hard, and ultra-incompressible was long considered unlikely in science. It was...
An interdisciplinary research team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has built platinum nanoparticles for catalysis in fuel cells: The new size-optimized catalysts are twice as good as the best process commercially available today.
Fuel cells may well replace batteries as the power source for electric cars. They consume hydrogen, a gas which could be produced for example using surplus...
The fly agaric with its red hat is perhaps the most evocative of the diverse and variously colored mushroom species. Hitherto, the purpose of these colors was...
24.06.2019 | Event News
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
16.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
16.07.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering
16.07.2019 | Information Technology