Two days ago, I received an email from my chum Arthur Smith, one of the world's foremost experts on cosmic rays, who now devotes himself to beekeeping and making homemade soap.
Arthur likes to keep his finger on the pulse of happenings in physics and cosmology and suchlike. He directed me to a UniverseToday.com article saying rumors were flying that gravitational waves had finally been detected.
As you are doubtless aware, the Russian-American theoretical physicist Professor Andrei Dmitriyevich Linde was one of the first to postulate the inflationary universe theory, along with the theory of eternal inflation and the inflationary multiverse. The inflationary universe theory explains what may have happened the first fraction of a second after the universe appeared in the Big Bang.
Just one hour ago, as I was writing this post, CNN announced "gravitational waves detected." We are talking about the detection of primordial gravitational waves. These ripples in the very fabric of space and time carry echoes of the Big Bang from nearly 14 billion years ago. Furthermore, they may offer evidence supporting Professor Linde's theories.
But wait, there's more. Just a few minutes ago, I received an email from my friend Javi Garcia-Lasheras in Spain, who has been doing some rather interesting work at CERN. He also likes to keep his finger on what is happening in the space-time continuum. He pointed me toward a YouTube video in which Chao-Lin Kuo, an assistant professor of physics at Stanford, surprises Linde with evidence that supports his cosmic inflation theory.
I have to say that this brought tears to my eyes. Linde and his wife are totally unsuspecting; they recognize Kuo but have no idea why he's there until he says, "We have five-sigma evidence." That basically means "We have an extremely high degree of confidence." When Linde's wife realizes the significance of what's being said, the expression on her face makes me want to cry.
Physicists around the world are racing to analyze these results further. If they are confirmed, it means another gigantic step toward a theory of everything that unites quantum mechanics and gravitational effects and furthers our understanding of the universe. Just wait until I call my mom in England and tell her what's going on.
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting