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The BICEP2 team had spent three years analyzing CMB data, looking for a distinctive curling pattern called B-mode polarization. These swirls indicate that the light of the CMB has been twisted, or polarized, into specific curling alignments. In two papers published online on the BICEP project website, the team said they have high confidence the B-mode pattern is there, and that they can rule out alternative explanations such as dust in our own galaxy, distortions caused by the gravity of other galaxies and errors introduced by the telescope itself. That suggests the swirls could have been left only by the very first gravitational waves being stretched out by inflation.
And for some theorists, simply proving that inflation happened at all would be a sign of the multiverse.
"If inflation is there, the multiverse is there," said Andrei Linde of Stanford University in California, who is not on the BICEP2 team and is one of the originators of inflationary theory. "Each observation that brings better credence to inflation brings us closer to establishing that the multiverse is real." (Watch video of Linde being surprised with the news that primordial gravitational waves have been detected.)
For now, physicists don't know how they might observe the multiverse and confirm that it exists. "But when the idea of inflation was proposed 30 years ago, it was a figment of theoretical imagination," says Marc Kamionkowski at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. "What I'm hoping is that with these results, other theorists out there will start to think deeply about the multiverse, so that 20 years from now we can have a press conference saying we've found evidence of it."
In the meantime, studying the properties of the swirls in the CMB might reveal details of what the cosmos was like just after its birth. The power and frequency of the waves seen by BICEP2 show that they were rippling through a particle soup with an energy of about 1016 gigaelectronvolts, or 10 trillion times the peak energy expected at the Large Hadron Collider. At such high energies, physicists expect that three of the four fundamental forces in physics – the strong, weak and electromagnetic forces – would be merged into one.
The detection is also the first whiff of quantum gravity, one of the thorniest puzzles in modern physics. Right now, theories of quantum mechanics can explain the behaviour of elementary particles and those three fundamental forces, but the equations fall apart when the fourth force, gravity, is added to the mix. Seeing gravitational waves in the CMB means that gravity is probably linked to a particle called the graviton, which in turn is governed by quantum mechanics. Finding these primordial waves won't tell us how quantum mechanics and gravity are unified, says Kamionkowski. "But it does tell us that gravity obeys quantum laws."
"For the first time, we're directly testing an aspect of quantum gravity," says Frank Wilczek at MIT. "We're seeing gravitons imprinted on the sky."
The dark flow is controversial because the distribution of matter in the observed universe cannot account for it. Its existence suggests that some structure beyond the visible universe -- outside our "horizon" -- is pulling on matter in our vicinity.
originally posted by: fatpastyhead
a reply to: Aleister
Wow. We just keep getting smaller.
And this multiverse could again be part of something bigger?
That's the understatement of the year. Your source from March is too old because in June the researchers amended their paper to say what they found may just be dust, and many scientists believe that's the most likely explanation:
originally posted by: Kashai
Apparently it has not been proven yet.
on 19 June 2014, lowered confidence in confirming the cosmic inflation findings was reported; the accepted and reviewed version of the discovery paper contains an appendix discussing the possible production of the signal by dust. In part because the large value of the tensor to scalar ratio, which contradicts limits from the Planck data, this is considered the most likely explanation for the detected signal by many scientists.