Primordial gravitational waves, and ants in the curl of space

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Bicep2

You know a scientific discovery is big when it makes the regular news, and the apparent discovery of primordial gravitational waves has done that.

These results are believed to show what happened in the early universe, right after the Big Bang. If they survive peer review then they’ll be the final confirmation of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, and the first direct evidence of universal inflation. These are big deals because they further strengthen some already very strong theories.

For an interesting illustration of what led to the BICEP2 project and how it was carried out, read this story on Scienceblogs’ Dynamics of Cats.

Being a very clever ant, you realise that you can figure out something about the lake [in which you’re floating]!
For example, you realise that while it is a very deep lake, it is not infinitely deep.
In fact you can, eg by measuring some of the swirls, and where the waves break, figure there are shallows in some parts of the lake.

Does Our Universe Live Inside a Wormhole?

Science magazine is reporting a new paper from Indiana University’s Nikodem Poplawski that speculates about whether our universe might exist in a wormhole between two other universes.

Poplawski thinks this idea is worth speculation because it provides possible explanations (or, at least, gives us room to manoeuvre) on two current problems: the unification of gravity with the nuclear and electromagnetic forces, and dark energy.

It all sounds like a bit of a stretch, an attempt to come up with scenarios that fit the facts. But that is one way discoveries are made.