Scientists today announced they have found evidence of strong “gravitational waves” that emerged in the aftermath of the Big Bang that could provide clues into the birth of the universe. Though the research presented requires further verification, many are optimistic that the results put forth today are accurate. The New Scientist reports:
"No experiment should be taken too seriously until there's more than one that can vouch for it," says Alan Guth at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "But it does seem to me that this is a very reliable group and what they've seen is very definitive.
Marc Kamionkowski at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, is even more effusive. "This is the greatest discovery of the century," he says. "If it sticks, which I think it will, it's Nobel-prize material.”
The signal at the heart of the new research was detected by a special telescope set-up in the South Pole known as Bicep (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization) that, as The Guardian points out, “scans the sky at microwave frequencies, where it picks up the fossil energy from the big bang.”
The discovery is also significant in that if gravitational waves are found to exist it would prove “the last untested prediction of Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity”:
"[Gravitational waves] are minuscule ripples in the fabric of the universe that carry energy across space, somewhat similar to waves crossing an ocean.
For decades, cosmologists have thought that the signature of primordial gravitational waves could be imprinted on this radiation. "It's been called the Holy Grail of cosmology," says Peiris, "It would be a real major, major, major discovery.” […]
According to theory, the primordial gravitational waves will tell us about the first, infinitessimal moment of the universe's history. Cosmologists believe that 10-34 seconds after the big bang (a decimal point followed by 33 zeros and a one) the universe was driven to expand hugely.
Known as inflation, the theory was dreamed up to explain why the universe is so remarkably uniform from place to place. But it has always lacked some credibility because no one can find a convincing physical explanation for why it happened."
Check out the full results from the scientists’ findings HERE. Warning: strong scientific language and graphic charts.