In 2014 the BICEP2 team of astronomers operating out of their South Pole telescope made the spectacular claim of detection of cosmic inflation via a signal that was expected in the CMB radiation from accompanying gravitational waves in the period of time much less than a second after the alleged big bang. I expressed my doubts back then. And other scientists much closer to the field than I doubted the discovery. See the list of related articles below.
By the time the BICEP2 team’s 25-page paper was accepted for publication in the prestigious journal Physical Review Letters1 they had added a half-page caveat saying that they might be wrong. This was later confirmed that they were most probably wrong due to their not properly accounting for the foreground contamination of their putative signal from dust emission in the Galaxy. That highlights one of the dangers of rushing to publish when you have not ruled out all other possible sources. And cosmology is particularly more difficult than other branches of science, if we can even call cosmology science.
The Planck satellite team then looked at the foreground dust contamination problem: Continue reading