News / Science & Technology

Scientists Hear Earliest Echoes of Big Bang

  • The sun sets behind BICEP2 (in the foreground) and the South Pole Telescope (in the background).
  • The BICEP2 telescope's focal plane consists of 512 superconducting microwave detectors, developed and produced at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
  • The tiny temperature fluctuations of the cosmic microwave background (shown here as color) trace primordial density fluctuations in the early universe that seed the later growth of galaxies.
  • Gravitational waves from inflation generate a faint but distinctive twisting pattern in the polarization of the cosmic microwave background, known as a 'curl' or B-mode pattern.
  • Graduate student Justus Brevik tests the BICEP2 readout electronics.
Scientists Hear Earliest Echoes of Big Bang
Scientists say they have discovered evidence of the “dynamite” that caused the Big Bang.
 
If confirmed, experts say it will be one of the most important fundamental discoveries in the history of science.

The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics led the group, working at a radio telescope at the South Pole, where the air is dry and there is little human interference.

They examined the background radiation of the universe, the last traces of energy from the Big Bang.

The new research by provides the first solid evidence that the universe went through an extraordinary growth spurt in its first brief moments of being, a period called inflation.
 
This unfathomably rapid rate of growth left ripples in the fabric of space -- gravitational waves that Albert Einstein predicted, but that have never been detected until now.
 
The force driving that exponential expansion is unknown, but experts say this new evidence that it exists offers a long-sought link between gravity, which acts on everything we can see, and quantum mechanics, which governs the subatomic realm.
 
‘Greatest discoveries’
 
“I think this is going to go down, if it stands the test of time, as one of the greatest discoveries in the entire history of science,” said Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist Max Tegmark, who was not involved in the research, “and I really don’t say that lightly.”
 
The researchers found extremely subtle irregularities in the universe’s background radiation. The variations followed a curling, twisting pattern that they say marks the passage of gravitational waves.
 
“Detecting this signal is one of the most important goals in cosmology today,” team leader John Kovac at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said in a statement.
 
Although much of current astrophysics rests on the assumption that inflation happened, the evidence has been lacking.
 
And it wasn’t clear that the signal would be detectable nearly 14 billion years after the fact, added University of Chicago cosmologist Michael Turner. “Looking for the gravity waves from inflation was called, by many, folly or chasing a wild goose,” he said.
 
Turner was not a member of the research team. He said the discovery of gravity waves means scientists can study the force behind inflation, which, he said, “might well have been the dynamite behind the Big Bang.”
 
‘New physics’
 
“One of the reasons why this discovery is exciting is because inflation does require that there’s some new fundamental physics beyond the four forces we know about,” said Johns Hopkins University astronomer Marc Kamionkowski, who was also not involved with the research.
 
He said the new findings fit nicely with theories that unify all of the forces.
 
The new evidence has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Experts who have seen the research said it was compelling, but that other scientists will need to confirm it.
 
Kamionkowski said that if it does stand up to scrutiny, it opens up an exciting new area of research.
 
“It’s as if someone was around at the time of inflation and sent us a telegram encoded in gravitational waves, which then got transcribed on the sky,” he said. “In the forthcoming years, what I’m hoping will happen is, we’ll actually be able to read what this telegram is telling us.”

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Cranksy from: USA
March 18, 2014 1:24 PM
What are the four forces we know about?
In Response

by: Max Tegmark from: Cambridge, MA
March 18, 2014 8:18 PM
The electromagnetic, weak, strong and gravitational forces.
The first one prevents you from falling through the floor when the last one pulls you down. The strong force holds quarks together inside of your protons and neutrons.

by: Donald from: burnaby
March 18, 2014 1:18 AM
God couldn't create the whole universe without making alot of noise, of course there would be an echo.

by: John Browne from: Windsor, Ontario
March 18, 2014 12:50 AM
Yeah right, will be almost as unproveable as the theory of evolution...This article should be posted in a comic book

by: BMG
March 18, 2014 12:13 AM
We already have the telegram, aka Torah or Bible.

by: peter ngunyi from: narok,kenya
March 17, 2014 11:42 PM
Thats how God created the universe!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs