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Monday, March 17, 2014

5

"What Made the Universe Bang to Begin With"

One night late in 1979, an itinerant young physicist named Alan Guth, with a new son and a year’s appointment at Stanford, stayed up late with his notebook and equations, venturing far beyond the world of known physics. He was trying to understand why there was no trace of some exotic particles that should have been created in the Big Bang. Instead he discovered what might have made the universe bang to begin with. A potential hitch in the presumed course of cosmic evolution could have infused space itself with a special energy that exerted a repulsive force, causing the universe to swell faster than the speed of light for a prodigiously violent instant.

If true, the rapid engorgement would solve paradoxes like why the heavens look uniform from pole to pole and not like a jagged, warped mess. The enormous ballooning would iron out all the wrinkles and irregularities. Those particles were not missing, but would be diluted beyond detection, like spit in the ocean.

“SPECTACULAR REALIZATION,” Dr. Guth wrote across the top of the page and drew a double box around it.

On Monday, Dr. Guth’s starship came in. Radio astronomers reported that they had seen the beginning of the Big Bang, and that his hypothesis, known undramatically as inflation, looked right.

Reaching back across 13.8 billion years to the first sliver of cosmic time with telescopes at the South Pole, a team of astronomers led by John M. Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics detected ripples in the fabric of space-time — so-called gravitational waves — the signature of a universe being wrenched violently apart when it was roughly a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second old.

This is the biggest space news of all! I barely understand it!!!!!!!!! I'm going to read this beautiful New York Times explainer over and over until I do?!?!?!?!?!



5 Comments / Post A Comment

Weasley

Jia, I really love your commitment to space news! As a baby astrophysicist it's nice to see popular/general (i.e. not i09, which I love) blogs to give these things (which are so massively important!) attention.

j-i-a

@Weasley I AM COMMITTED TO SPACE NEWS FOR LIFE WEASLEY TYSM

Gef the Talking Mongoose

@j-i-a : The coffee-cup bit on the Times explainer is pretty awesome.

Also, here is a good older piece on Guth, which frames his work nicely in the arc of his career : http://www.esquire.com/features/copernicus-galileo-hubble-guth-1199

Jill_Tata

awesome story. love this@k

arkad

Soufiane ErmanDépendance aux jeux vidéo est un autre aspect culturel du jeu pour attirer la critique car elle peut avoir une influence négative sur la santé et sur ​​les relations sociales . Le problème de la toxicomanie et ses risques pour la santé semble avoir grandi avec la montée de Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG). Outre les problèmes sanitaires et sociaux liés à jeu d'ordinateur toxicomanie ont grandi soucis similaires sur l'effet des jeux informatiques sur l'éducation .

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