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2014-03-17. Gravitational Waves from Big Bang Detected.

posted Mar 19, 2014, 5:00 PM by Angela Miller   [ updated Mar 19, 2014, 5:06 PM ]
For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 9. Excerpt: Physicists have found a long-predicted twist in light from the big bang that represents the first image of ripples in the universe called gravitational waves, researchers announced today. The finding is direct proof of the theory of inflation, the idea that the universe expanded extremely quickly in the first fraction of a nanosecond after it was born. What’s more, the signal is coming through much more strongly than expected, ruling out a large class of inflation models and potentially pointing the way toward new theories of physics, experts say. “This is huge,” says Marc Kamionkowski...“It’s not every day that you wake up and find out something completely new about the early universe. To me this is as Nobel Prize–worthy as it gets.” ...researchers have reported a surprisingly large number for r, the ratio of the gravitational wave fluctuations in the CMB to the fluctuations caused by perturbations in the density of matter.  ...Such a high value of r, for instance, indicates that inflation began even earlier than some models predicted, at one trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the big bang. The timing of inflation, in turn, tells physicists about the energy scale of the universe when inflation was going on. BICEP2’s value of r suggests that this was the same energy scale at which all the forces of nature except gravity (the electromagnetic, strong and weak forces) might have been unified into a single force—an idea called grand unified theory. The finding bolsters the idea of grand unification and rules out a number of inflation models that do not feature such an energy scale. ...“This measurement is allowing us to use the early universe as a lab for new physics in energy ranges that are otherwise inaccessible to us,” Kamionkowski says. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gravity-waves-cmb-b-mode-polarization/. Clara Moskowitz, Scientific American. See also: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/18/science/space/detection-of-waves-in-space-buttresses-landmark-theory-of-big-bang.html.