The telescope used to make the discovery-BICEP2 instrument at the South Pole. BBC News/www.bbc.com/news
The Ever Expanding Universe?
By Nicole Halseth, News Editor
Scientists have recently discovered evidence of rapid growth in the expansion of the universe, which is a major discovery in confirming the existence of an event called the Big Bang. According to the Big Bang theory (no, not the show), the universe came into existence around 14 billion years ago, following a massive explosion. Scientists now have evidence that only a split-second later, the expansion of the cosmos began.
Though this discovery must still be confirmed by others, scientists are hailing it as a major breakthrough. According to the Globe and Mail, if verified, this “new finding could rank with the greatest discoveries about the universe over the last 25 years.”
The experiment was carried out by observing the faint trace light remaining from the Big Bang event. Around two percent of the sky was observed for over three years from a telescope in the South Pole. The telescope was looking for light waves with a specific pattern, located within the microwave glow of the Big Bang’s remains. This specific type of light wave is known as “inflation,” and is considered to be evidence of rapid expansion. The pattern of these light waves is caused by gravitational waves echoing across the universe in space and time. According to the Globe and Mail, “if confirmed, the new work would be the first detection of such waves from the birth of the universe, which have been called the first tremors of the Big Bang.”
Though there is still some doubt that these light waves signify inflation, they likely still present the best evidence for direct testing of the Big Bang phenomenon.
Planning to formally submit its findings to a scientific journal by the end of March, the team that performed the experiment includes researchers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the University of Minnesota, Stanford University, the California Institute of Technology and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The leader of the research team is John Kovac of Harvard.
If confirmed within the next few years, this discovery may lead us to invaluable insights into the beginning of the universe itself, and, by extension, ourselves.