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astronomy Cosmology Creation/evolution Physics Science

New study confirms BICEP2 detection of cosmic inflation wrong

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.

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BICEP2 sought characteristic swirls in the polarisation of the Universe’s so-called relic radiation from the big bang

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: 

Categories
astronomy Cosmology Creation/evolution Physics

Inflation epoch hopes dashed again!

In March 2014 a team of astrophysicists announced to the world, through a public press release, that they had made the biggest discovery of the 21st century. Using the BICEP2, a telescope located at the South Pole they claimed that they had discovered evidence of the early inflation epoch of the big-bang universe. In several articles I mentioned that not only I but also other physicists doubted that this would bear out. Some suggested it was dust emission from within our galaxy that caused the particular B-mode polarization of the photons in the CMB, which was their claimed signature of the putative epoch of inflation.

Map showing the tiny variations in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) observed by Europe's Planck satellite.  Credit: ESA/Planck Collaboration
Map showing the tiny variations in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) observed by Europe’s Planck satellite.
Credit: ESA/Planck Collaboration

Then it was revealed that the authors of the claimed biggest astrophysics discovery of the century admit they may have been wrong. On  June 20th, 2014, the BICEP2 Collaboration published a paper published in Physical Review Letters,1 making their claim. It was 25 pages long but with a half-page disclaimer saying they might be wrong and they would have to wait the outcome of the data analysis of the Planck satellite team looking at the same region of the sky and the same frequencies.

Well, that has now been published, and it’s not good news for the BICEP2 team.