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Cosmic Inflation and Proof of the Big Bang

blog-0945133001395626211.jpgFirst of all I have to say that I'm surprised that nobody here has blogged about this yet. But in case you haven't heard yet, March 17th was a big day for science, and physics in particular. Researchers from Harvard University and the Smithsonian released evidence of distortion in the cosmic background radiation (shown to the right) caused by gravitational waves from when the universe went through inflation after the big bang. The idea is that in the 1x10-35th of a second after the big bang the universe expanded very rapidly at a speed much larger than the speed of light (and yes, that is possible since its the universe itself was moving). So what exactly does this mean? First of all, it is direct evidence that the big bang happened. There still may be a little uncertainty but the team that found this distortion has been looking at it for three years ruling out every other possibility so chances are it's exactly what they say it is. It also may have profound effects on our understanding of physics. Gravity waves were the last untested part of Einstein's theory of general relativity and with this evidence its now a complete theory. There is also a chance that it may lead to a unified theory of modern physics. As of now general relativity (the physics of very large things) and quantum mechanics (physics of very small things) don't work together but this discovery could help bridge the gap between the two. Also, most of the current theories of inflation include the existence of multiple universes and this evidence narrows down the theories a lot to the ones that include a multi-verse. The possibilities with this are endless because there is a chance that other universes will have laws of physics different than our own, which would be crazy but awesome to study. Scientific breakthroughs of this magnitude don't happen often but when they do they usually lead to a vastly improved understanding of the mechanisms of the universe.
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