If you’ve heard news reports of big discoveries related to the Big Bang and don’t know what to make of it, or why it should matter, you may be amazed to find that scientists have made one of the biggest discoveries about the beginning and nature of our universe–confirming that our universe began from something very, very small, and there was rapid inflation that left its mark in the form of gravitational waves.
Recent findings by physicists working with data from observations of cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation at the time of the Big Bang suggest that our universe experienced a time of extraordinarily rapid expansion called inflation… which in turn provides support for the idea that new “pocket universes” can be formed.
The basic idea of inflation is that spacetime is physically infinite… a fabric stretched out farther than we can fully imagine. Even more amazingly, the notion of “eternal inflation” predicts there will be an infinite number of Big Bang universes separate and distinct from ours, bursting forth endlessly from an underlying matrix. While most other Big Bang universes are likely to be quite different from ours, parallel universes are now viewed to be more than just a theory, and in fact predictions of particular theories.
This new research is generating tremendous excitement based on data collected by the BICEP2 telescope in Antarctica, where scientists have been searching for evidence of a particular type of polarization existing in the cosmic radiation found everywhere in our universe after the Big Bang. BICEP stands for “Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization,” and the BICEP2 telescope is the second version of this research device. Scientists working with BICEP and BICEP2 have found primordial b-mode gravitational waves, indicating that light was polarized by existence of uniformly distributed influence of gravity on light from a time period of 380,000 years after the Big Bang.
What makes the discovery of these gravitational waves so remarkable is the phenomenal power and frequency of these waves at the time they were formed–on the order of about 10 to the sixteenth gigaelectronvolts, or 10 trillion times the peak energies found at the world’s largest operating particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)… energies so high, in fact, that physicists expect that three of the four fundamental forces in physics (the weak, the strong, and the electromagnetic forces) would operate as one. This is the first observation of quantum gravity at work, providing real evidence of a quantum connection to gravity.
While the BICEP2 results were confirmed by corroborating reports from an earlier version of BICEP utilizing different equipment, physicists are expressing cautious enthusiasm until such time as the Planck telescope provides confirmation that these gravity waves can be found in Planck’s view of the CMB, too.
And where does all this lead? The next steps for physicists looking back as far as possible to the very beginnings of this universe are to integrate new data with existing and emerging theories. Multiverse theories are gaining tremendous ground, now that inflation appears to have moved from theory to fact.
I am tremendously excited about these findings because I have been following a great deal of multidisciplinary studies, all suggesting we live in a holographic multiverse, as discussed in the book, Quantum Jumps, in which quantum effects influence much more than just the microscopic realm.
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