© Universe Today
Some physicists still have questions on the true origin of the BICEP2 findings…
It was just a week ago that the news
blew through the scientific world like a storm: researchers from the BICEP2
project at the South Pole Telescope had detected unambiguous evidence of primordial gravitational waves in the cosmic microwave background, the residual rippling of space and time created by the sudden inflation of the Universe less than a billionth of a billionth of a second after the Big Bang.
With whispers of Nobel nominations quickly rising in the science news wings, the team's findings were hailed as the best direct evidence yet of cosmic inflation, possibly even supporting the existence of a multitude of other universes besides our own.
That is, if they really do
indicate what they appear to. Some theorists are advising that we "put the champagne back in the fridge"... at least for now.
Theoretical physicists and cosmologists James Dent
, Lawrence Krauss
, and Harsh Mathur
have submitted a brief paper (arXiv:1403.5166
[astro-ph.CO]) stating that, while groundbreaking, the BICEP2 Collaboration findings have yet to rule out all possible non-inflation sources of the observed B-mode polarization patterns and the "surprisingly large value of r
, the ratio of power in tensor modes to scalar density perturbations."
"However, while there is little doubt that inflation at the Grand Unified Scale is the best motivated source of such primordial waves, it is important to demonstrate that other possible sources cannot account for the current BICEP2 data before definitely claiming Inflation has been proved. "
- Dent, Krauss, and Mathur (arXiv:1403.5166 [astro-ph.CO])
Inflation may very well be the cause - and Dent and company state right off the bat that "there is little doubt that inflation at the Grand Unified Scale is the best motivated source of such primordial waves" - but there's also a possibility, however remote, that some other, later cosmic event is responsible for at least some if not all of the BICEP2 measurements. (Hence the name of the paper: "Killing the Straw Man: Does BICEP Prove Inflation?")