In the past two weeks, the biggest news in science was probably the detection of the comic microwave background pattern (due to gravitational waves from the early universe) that serves as the evidence for the inflation theory. Ever since the news broke, many people and media outlets have written about this – and here is a collection of the articles if you are interested in learning more about the discovery as well as its impact.
Original publications on arXiv:
BICEP2 Collaboration, P. A. R Ade, R. W. Aikin, D. Barkats, S. J. Benton, C. A. Bischoff, J. J. Bock, J. A. Brevik, I. Buder, E. Bullock & C. D. Dowell (2014). BICEP2 I: Detection Of B-mode Polarization at Degree Angular Scales, arXiv: 1403.3985v2
BICEP2 Collaboration, P. A. R Ade, R. W. Aikin, M. Amiri, D. Barkats, S. J. Benton, C. A. Bischoff, J. J. Bock, J. A. Brevik, I. Buder & E. Bullock (2014). BICEP2 II: Experiment and Three-Year Data Set, arXiv: 1403.4302v1
BICEP2 results: BICEP2 2014 Results Release – including the papers, figures, video (technical and news conference), Q & A, images, etc
- Cosmic inflation: ‘Spectacular’ discovery hailed by Jonathan Amos.
- Inflation: A compact guide to big science by Jonathan Amos. A good Q & A about the inflation theory.
- How do we know the Big Bang actually happened? presented by Astronomer Maggie Aderin-Pocock. This might have been done before the BICEP2 results came out, but it is quite a good re-cap on how the Big Bang happened.
New York Times has a pretty comprehensive story on it along with some graphic explanation: Space Ripples Reveal Big Bang’s Smoking Gun
Nature News has a whole special feature dedicated to this, including Q & A and discussion of implications: Special – Waves from the Big Bang
Some shameless self-promotion / Canadian context: My department got a little bit of attention because one of our faculty members, Dr. Mark Halpern, is one of the co-authors of the BICEP2 papers (I believe there are also collaborators from the University Toronto). Here are some interviews with Mark.
- Rob Breakenridge Show – Mar17 Dr. Mark Halpern
- 14B-Year-Old light spotted with CTV News Channel
- The Star Spot Episode 49: Enduring Mysteries of the Early Universe, with Mark Halpern
Now let’s be cautious here:
Matt Strassler, theoretical physicist and a visiting scholar at Harvard, put together some posts about the BICEP2 results in his blog post If It Holds Up, What Might BICEP2′s Discovery Mean?. He is “cautiously optimistic” at the moment, which is a good place to be for scientists 🙂 His posts have more scientific content, but you can find a lot of background information on his site (mostly hyperlinked throughout his posts. You can also just start from the March 17th post).
Neil Turok, the Director of Canada’s Perimeter Institute, “urges caution on BICEP2 results” in a physicsworld.com article. Granted, he is not exactly a supporter of the inflation theory to begin with – he has a bet with Stephen Hawking on it, and Hawking is now claiming vistory. If you scroll down to the middle of the BBC article Cosmic inflation: ‘Spectacular’ discovery hailed, you can find a sound clip of Stephen Hawking and Neil Turok’s perspectives on the BICEP2 evidence (Hawking: I won! Turok: Not yet!).
This crazy Universe – or universes? Sean Carroll from Caltech wrote about the evidence for inflation and its implication for “multiverse” in New York Times Opinionator article When Nature Looks Unnatural (A shorter highlight could be found on io9). He also expanded on the topic on his personal blog, The Preposterous Universe.
Onto the lighter side of things: See how Andrei Linde, one of the main authors of the inflation theory, reacted to the news re: BICEP2 results delivered by Chao-Lin Kuo, a co-author of the BICEP2 papers.
If you have any additional resources or articles to add, please feel free to comment below. Otherwise, enjoy!