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Introducing ‘Primordial Gravitational Waves’
Posted on Mar 17, 2014
Scientists are announcing a “whole new era” of physics with the possible detection of “fingerprints of the big bang in gravitational waves on the whole universe” known as “primordial gravitational waves.”
The tiny ripples in what physicists call spacetime are the last prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1916 general theory of relativity to be verified, Stuart Clark writes at The Guardian. Until now, scientists have had only circumstantial evidence of their existence. The discovery may also connect Einstein’s theory with quantum mechanics, another pillar of physics, leading to what some have called the “theory of everything.”
“This is a genuine breakthrough,” Andrew Pontzen, a cosmologist from University College London who was not involved in the work, was quoted as saying. “It represents a whole new era in cosmology and physics as well.” If confirmed, the discovery will almost certainly lead to a Nobel Prize.
The research involves light from the big bang that has been turned into microwaves over the course of its passage through space. These microwaves were discovered in 1964 and are known as cosmic microwave background radiation. A telescope at the South Pole called Bicep2 was designed to measure the changes in these waves.
Of the findings, Clark writes:
Dr. Ed Daw, an astronomer at the University of Sheffield, said, “Gravitational waves emitted at the time of the big bang can tell us how the universe came to exist. … If these results prove correct, we will have new key information on the very early universe, information that is hard to get from any other source.
“Gravitational waves are a new frontier in astrophysics and cosmology. If today’s findings are accurate then it will further strengthen our understanding of how the universe formed.”
Read more about the development here.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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