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  • Reviews & Previews

    Why the Nobel Prize might need a makeover

    Losing the Nobel PrizeBrian KeatingW.W. Norton & Co., $27.95

    Dust may seem insignificant, but in science, it can cost you a Nobel Prize.

    That’s what happened to Brian Keating, a major contributor to the BICEP2 team that claimed in 2014 to have found the first definitive evidence of cosmic inflation (SN: 4/5/14, p. 6), a period of extremely rapid expansion just after the...

    04/02/2018 - 09:00 Cosmology, History of Science, Astronomy
  • News

    Dust erases evidence for gravity wave detection

    An elusive signal from the dawn of the cosmos is officially still elusive.

    Galactic dust accounts for much of the signal that researchers originally interpreted as ripples in spacetime imprinted on the universe’s first light, a new analysis confirms. The study, conducted by the BICEP2 team that claimed the discovery and scientists with the Planck space telescope, nullifies a result that...

    01/30/2015 - 16:10 Cosmology, Astronomy
  • Feature

    Year in review: Dust obscures possible gravitational wave discovery


    Gravitational waves from the Big Bang captured worldwide attention in 2014. But then interstellar dust clouds stole the show.

    Detection of such waves — ripples in the fabric of space — would be direct evidence for the theory of cosmological inflation, a brief epoch immediately after...

    12/17/2014 - 09:00 Astronomy
  • News

    Gravitational wave discovery gives way to Milky Way dust

    New data from the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite spell more trouble for the claimed discovery of ripples in the fabric of space created moments after the Big Bang. The Planck data strongly suggest that dust in the Milky Way galaxy might account for the entire signal interpreted as gravitational waves by researchers using BICEP2, the Antarctic telescope responsible for the initial...

    09/23/2014 - 15:41 Cosmology, Astronomy
  • Science Ticker

    Paper reporting primordial gravitational waves published

    Guest post by Christopher Crockett

    The much celebrated and debated paper reporting the detection of primordial gravitational waves from a split-second after the Big Bang is finally published. It appears June 19 in Physical Review Letters.

    The publication follows months of debate as to whether or not the researchers were justified in claiming a detection of gravitational waves (SN:...

    06/19/2014 - 14:29 Cosmology
  • News

    Dustup emerges over gravitational waves discovery

    In March, cosmologists announced with much fanfare the first direct detection that our universe, in its earliest moments, underwent an unimaginably rapid expansion known as inflation (SN: 4/5/14, p. 6). The researchers had seen twirling patterns in the alignment, or polarization, of the first light released into space just 380,000 years after the Big Bang, what’s known as the cosmic microwave...

    05/21/2014 - 17:35 Cosmology
  • Context

    Top 10 cosmological discoveries

    Talk about making a cosmic ripple. This week’s report of gravity waves from the Big Bang is the biggest cosmological news of the century. It’s the science news equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane or F5 tornado. If the new results hold up, the understanding of the universe will have taken a bigger leap for humankind than hopping around on the moon. And the BICEP2 result will join an...

    03/21/2014 - 09:34 Cosmology, History of Science
  • News

    Gravitational waves unmask universe just after Big Bang

    Editor's note: The findings reported in this story were later found to be caused by galactic dust. Read the full story here.

    Astronomers have detected the earliest echoes of the Big Bang, confirming a decades-old hypothesis that describes the universe’s ultrafast expansion during its first moments. The findings provide researchers with the first direct measurement of conditions at nearly...

    03/17/2014 - 18:23 Cosmology, Astronomy
  • Context

    Inflation rides gravity waves into cosmological history

    Sandra Bullock now has the perfect title for a sequel to Gravity. Gravity Waves.

    She won’t have to dodge space debris in this one. She’ll just have to brush up on cosmic inflation and perhaps laser interferometry. She can start by reading the wave of publicity in the wake of Monday’s announcement of gravity wave detection. Within the glow of cosmic microwaves left over from the Big Bang...

    03/17/2014 - 17:15 Cosmology, History of Science
  • Science Ticker

    First images of gravity waves, evidence of cosmic inflation reported

    The first images of gravitational waves were released March 17.

    Gravitational waves have been described as the "first tremors of the Big Bang," and were imaged with the BICEP2 telescope in Antarctica. The data provide evidence for cosmic inflation, the theory that in the first moments of the universe's existence, it expanded exponentially. 

    More details on the announcement will be...

    03/17/2014 - 12:04 Cosmology