To give you some context, after thirty-five years scientist Andrei Linde had his hypothesis about the birth of the universe confirmed this week. Wonder no longer that must have felt like, as “Assistant Professor Chao-Lin Kuo surprises Professor Andrei Linde with evidence that supports cosmic inflation theory. The discovery, made by Kuo and his colleagues at the BICEP2 experiment, represents the first images of gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time. These waves have been described as the ‘first tremors of the Big Bang.’”
This is what it looks like to see your life’s work vindicated:
I have never seen something like this on video before: a powerful mind getting the news that, after 35 years, his ideas about the basic nature of the cosmos have been decisively confirmed by observation.
Andrei Linde was one of the originators of the modern theory of the big bang, which describes how 380,000 years after this event, the matter particles in the universe had calmed down enough that light could begin to flow freely without the constant interference of matter. As a result, the specific pattern of gravitational energy suffusing the universe in this moment--the fingerprint of the plenum itself--was permanently imprinted on all the free-flowing light.
Today astronomers announced that they had finally succeeded in isolating small flashes of this light that had been flowing freely for 14 billion years--and more: that when they studied this ancient light, what they saw was the exact kind of pattern that Linde and a few others had predicted long ago.
As Dennis says,
the majesty of this particular development is that it's both [a significant piece of evidence supporting the big bang theory and evidence in support of gravitational waves]--and more. First, it is the most direct observation to date of gravitational waves. Previously we had only seen the indirect affect gravitational waves have on distant astronomical bodies. Second, it's a dramatic confirmation of a big piece of the inflationary model of the big bang, which says that the universe underwent an extremely fast period of expansion just after the big bang. And third, it's perhaps the most direct observational evidence we have indicating a deep link between quantum mechanics, which describes how particles of matter and light interact, and gravity, which describes the cosmic fabric on which these particles play. We still don't understand exactly how quantum mechanics and gravity are precisely related, but this is more reason to believe that there is some deep relationship between them.
For those [here who reject] the big bang theory, I would ask: what is your explanation of the observed red-shifts of light from distant stars, of the specific pattern of abundances of light elements in the universe, and of the existence and exact black-body signature of the cosmic microwave background radiation (i.e. this graph:
File:Cmbr.svg - Wikimedia Commons
If your answer to that last question, for example, is that you do not know why the cosmic microwave background radiation would have a blackbody spectrum, or that you do not know what a blackbody spectrum is, or that you do not know what the cosmic microwave background radiation is--then I would suggest that you not make such confident pronouncements on a subject of which you are largely ignorant.
Rest assured, however, that the probable source of your doubts about the big bang theory is a misunderstanding of what this theory asserts. Most importantly, it does *not* assert that the universe began 14 billion years ago, springing into existence from nothing . But to understand why the theory makes no such assertion--even when so many popular accounts of it do--you would have to understand the technical content of that theory. For then you would be able to differentiate the theory from much more speculative claims made by scientists and journalists of varying methodological prowess.
It is particularly tragic that pretentious pseudo-science like much of the literature on catastrophic global warming has provoked some people to blithely dismiss large swathes of the most fascinating and solidly validated scientific insights human reason has ever produced. And it's too bad for those people that their biases are thus depriving them of the joy that the linked video properly evokes in the rest of us.