Physicists Are Backing Away From The Biggest Discovery Of The Century

Physicists Are Backing Away From the Biggest Discovery of the Century

Back in March, a group of physicists announced the first direct evidence of the Big Bang in a splashy press conference followed by Nobel prize forecasts and champagne. But scientists have since questioned the discovery, and a new paper suggests the signal detected was not evidence of the Big Bang but instead largely, if not entirely, from interstellar dust. Oops.

In case you haven't been following the whole cosmological saga, here's a brief recap. Earlier this year, scientists using data from the BICEP2 telescope in Antarctica said they found a pattern called "B-mode polarisation" in the cosmic microwave background, which is radiation left over from the formation of the universe. These swirls matched the patterns thought to be made by primordial gravitational waves, which had been predicted but never seen before.

BICEP2 seemed to offer proof of the existence of primordial gravitational waves, and by extension, the Big Bang. Woohoo! Applause! Nobel!

But -- you've surely sensed there is a "but" coming -- there is much more prosaic explanation for those patterns too: dust. The BICEP2 scientists tried to account for this by using known several models of dust in space, including a preliminary map from a Powerpoint presentation given by a researcher working with the European Space Agency's Planck space telescope.

Now, Planck scientists have published their full map of interstellar dust, and there is more contamination than BICEP2 had accounted for. How much of BICEP2's signal actually comes from dust is still a matter of analysis -- the teams are working together and expected to publish something in November.

There's still some hope that BICEP2 detected more than dust, but those celebrations back in March were just as likely premature. Science by press conference is flashy (and if we're going to be totally honest, it gets a lot of clicks), but it obscures how science really works -- slowly, in fits, with lots of back and forth. [Quanta]

Picture: BICEP2 Telescope. Amble/Creative Commons

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    Creationists would love this.

      As a Creationist, this does not impact mre or my beliefs at all. Whether the universe was created by a Big Bang, or just merely came in to being, it results in the same thing.

      And who's to say that the Big Bang wasn't used by a Divine Being to create the universe?

        Just out of curiosity, what would it take for you to throw away your beliefs of creationism, what more evidence would it take to convince you? Man creating life in a lab from scratch? ( we are half way there on that front by the way) Or is it a simple case of I have my beliefs and no amount of evidence or scientific discoveries no matter how bullet proof they are will change your mind.

        Make one little mistake ( the bing bang) and no one forgets it..... Signed the creationist.

    Good to see the scientific method working.

    It must had been signals from the can opener, which some of "Physicists" where turning on and off to make one happy...


    See.. this is what real scientists do, withdraw their claims when they have looked properly at all the evidence and that their observations can be found to cause a different explanation...
    Meanwhile, if this had been "scientists" of the same genre as "global warmists" they'd be shouting the world down "GOD IS DEAD... OUR MODEL PROVED IT"

    I'm just here to say the same thing as @Trevor. Bravo to them!

    Of course, there will be people who will therefore say that scientists don't know what they're talking about. These people also don't, and never will, appreciate that THAT is precisely why scientists keep looking for answers!

    The author of this article is confused. This finding has nothing to do with the Big Bang (the moment of creation), but what is thought to have happened immediately after it; a very rapid period of expansion.

    There’s lots of ‘direct evidence’ for the Big Bang (see the cosmic microwave background), but there has so far been no evidence for this inflationary period. These gravity waves mentioned in the article would have been that direct evidence, had it all panned out. But not for the Big Bang, for inflation.

    The moot point is that a bunch of scientists tried to hype something and didn't get away with it, but the previous time this sort of thing happened, they did. Have a look at and "The Higgs Fake" by Alexander Unzicker.

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