OT: Major Space Discovery

Submitted by The Geek on March 17th, 2014 at 1:55 PM

The Board discussed this last week (HERE).

Researchers believe they discovered the signal in space that must have occurred just fractions of a second after the Big Bang.

The New York Times has an in-depth piece about the theory and  the BICEP2 team on the South Pole "seeing" the radio waves dating 13.8 billion years ago.

Dr. Alan Guth is credited with the theory of "inflation," which explains why the universe expanded so quickly and uniformly. The idea that the cosmos experienced an exponential growth spurt in its first trillionth, of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second would seem to be confirmed by this discovery.




March 17th, 2014 at 11:30 PM ^

I'm not saying you're wrong; in fact, id agree that this doesn't produce anything immediately useful for the average person.

Nevertheless, this discovery expedites many more discoveries, many of which can lead to immense benefit! That's kinda the point: discovering nuclear fusion didn't mean anything until the bomb 10 years later, discovering . . . Ok, you get the point.

This discovery re-invents cosmology, which changes physics, which changes our beliefs. I hope that makes sense



March 18th, 2014 at 11:41 AM ^

Science at its purest form has no practical application. It is just discovery for the purpose of satiating our curiosity.

Passing a wire through a magnetic field resulting in a current used to be a bar trick by Ol' Man Faraday. Its kinda important now.

Engineering is the practical application of science.

I recommend StarTalk with Neil Degrasse Tyson.


March 18th, 2014 at 12:01 AM ^

When he derived his three laws that remain the bedrock of classical physics, he couldn't have imagined the advances in engineering and science that would follow. In the 280 years or so since he' died, transportation, communication, agriculture and even research itself have all become radically different - based on foundations he laid.

It may not be sexy or cool, it may not even be inspiring. But it is valuable, and it is important, in ways we cannot possibly imagine.

yossarians tree

March 17th, 2014 at 11:28 PM ^

On a very practical basis, advances in the understanding of physics can and will have multiple and unknown applications. We just don't know what they are as we watch a basketball tournament in 2014. Nuclear medicine? Nuclear fusion as an infinite energy supply? Could be anything. Plus, it's just cool.



March 17th, 2014 at 3:09 PM ^

I'm not a physicist, but last I heard, the existence of gravitation waves is the last aspect of Einstein's theory of general relativity that remains unconfirmed. So this discovery may have fixed that.


March 17th, 2014 at 3:13 PM ^

Good summary of the implications of this discovery, in more or less straigh forward language:

Its direct proof about what happened during the big bang and inflation, The Inflationary theory of the Big Bang has been around for ~30 years, and has a good deal of indirect evidence to back it up. This discovery directly confirms our current model as the correct model, and quashes a lot of possible competing theories. Its very similar to the Higgs Boson in that regards.

What this means, is that it limits the possibilities for what a theory of Quantum Gravity and a Theory of Everything look like and further allows theorist to focus their research. It also provides experimental data for those researcher to use to hone their models.

Edit: It also means that Dark Energy is real. Not what it is, only that it exists.

(h/t LeftoverNoodles on Reddit)


March 17th, 2014 at 3:17 PM ^

I actually get depressed reading stuff like this because it makes me realize how little I'll ever be able to understand about the mysteries of the universe.


March 17th, 2014 at 4:04 PM ^

Now, this astrophysics stuff is seriously exciting, perhaps one of the great discoveries, if it survives peer review, many of us will experience in our lifetime.

And while we are all jumping up and down, if Kate Upton walked into the room, big bang would have a very different meaning and direction, and inflation theory would...you know.


March 17th, 2014 at 4:19 PM ^

As I understand it, this still does not explain why so many people find the show The Big Bang Theory funny.  I assume our best minds are still trying to figure that one out.


March 18th, 2014 at 7:04 AM ^

I happen to find the show funny.  Doesn't mean everyone does, and that's fine.  I think I'm regarded as one of the funnier posters on here, but hey...not everyone needs to have the same sense of humor I do.  I'm sure there's other comedies out there that some find funny that I don't, and that's fine too.  

Its just dumb to have this fight over and over and over....


March 17th, 2014 at 4:53 PM ^

a race of giant space ants is on their way to Earth and will soon enslave us all in their sugar caves.

It's never a bad time to stress that I welcome our new Ant Overlords.


I kid. Pretty cool discovery. Of all the tiny pieces that came from the bang, I'm glad I'm riding on this one.  


March 17th, 2014 at 4:58 PM ^

I like astrophysics far more than I understand it. Does any know if this discovery could change the age of the universe? I know it was touched on in another post, but what I'm wondering is if this discovery will change how the age of the universe is calculated.