Excitement Over Gravity Waves Comes Crashing Down – Facts So Romantic

The Dark Sector Lab includes the BICEP2 telescope, seen on the left.BICEP Keck

Science giveth, and science taketh away. What appeared earlier this year to be a long-sought glimpse of ancient ripples in spacetime now seems to have been schmutz in astronomers’ eyes.

In March, sky-gazers using a telescope at the South Pole called BICEP2 held a press conference announcing that they’d seen curlicues in the remnant glow from the Big Bang. The swirls, they said, were the imprints of gravitational waves produced nearly 14 billion years ago. These swirls would bolster the idea that the infant cosmos expanded faster than the speed of light during a brief growth spurt called inflation.

Researchers acknowledged that other telescopes would have to verify the signal for it to be trusted, but the news was greeted with jubilation, popped corks and talk of Nobel prizes. That giddiness (along with some caution that the work needed confirmation) was apparent in a roundup of quotes gathered by Nautilus the day after the result was announced at a Harvard press conference on March 17th. If confirmed, scientists said the find would “go down as one of the greatest discoveries in the history of science”…
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