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A Babe in the Universe

BICEP2: Inflation's Bubble Has Burst

3 Jun 2014, 17:09 UTC
BICEP2: Inflation's Bubble Has Burst
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I have refrained from commenting on the BICEP2 hype in March. The investigators claimed to have detected a pattern of B-Mode polarization in the cosmic microwave background. They claimed that this pattern was from gravitational waves predicted by the old inflation idea. Immediately there was talk in the press of Nobel prizes for BICEP2 and the originators of inflation. From the start many of us who understand the CMB questioned this result. The WMAP data release of 2003 was also claimed to "prove" inflation, but that hype fizzled away. Getting results from the CMB is extremely difficult, because the background noise is many times more powerful than the signal. The CMB is subject to many interpretations. Polarization in the CMB is difficult to decipher because foreground dust and gravitational lensing also produce polarization, which will mask anything from the early universe. Even if polarization was detected, it is not necessarily from gravitational waves. No experiment has ever detected gravitational waves. Some theorists doubt that they are detectable or even exist. Other phenomena could theoretically cause gravitational waves, not necessarily inflation. In the past 3 weeks the bubble of inflation has burst. Rumours reached the web from a fellow blogger and ...

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