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Swirls In the Afterglow of the Big Bang Could Set Stage For Major Discovery 54

sciencehabit writes "Scientists have spotted swirling patterns in the radiation lingering from the big bang, the so-called cosmic microwave background. The observation itself isn't Earth-shaking, as researchers know that these particular swirls or 'B-modes' originated in conventional astrophysics, but the result suggests that scientists are closing in on a much bigger prize: B-modes spawned by gravity waves that rippled through the infant universe. That observation would give them a direct peek into the cosmos' first fraction of a second and possibly shed light on how it all began."
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Swirls In the Afterglow of the Big Bang Could Set Stage For Major Discovery

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  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @05:34PM (#44395153) Homepage Journal

    In the intergalactic teacup of eternity.

    one lump or two?

    • In the intergalactic teacup of eternity.

      one lump or two?

      I entered some code in terminal to see if Linux could explain "creation" to me. Oddly enough it can and did. "dig +short txt". Without the quotes. "Creation may refer to:\; In religion and philosophy: Creation ex nihilo, the concept that matter comes \"from nothing\", Creation myth, stories of the supernatural creation of the Earth, Genesis creation narrative, the biblical account of creation http://en./ [en.]" ""

      • by anubi ( 640541 )
        This is just my guess, I will lay it out here.

        I believe what we are seeing is the explosion of a big black hole. One that had consumed the universe before it.

        What made it explode? Centrifugal force. The Universe the black hole ate was rotating. What we have now is rotating. Rotational inertia is conserved. Remnants of the great centrifugal slingout (aka "Big Bang") can be observed everywhere with everything spun out still spinning. This giant black hole kept on eating and eating and eating matt
        • If it were centrifugal force the universe would have have a center of mass around which it rotates, as far as anyone can tell, it doesn't. Merry-go-rounds are 4 dimensional objects, 3 of space and one of time. A singularity has only one spacial dimension, "distance" does not make sense in one dimension which means motion (eg: spinning) is impossible, since motion is impossible time cannot exist. Also your speculation seems to assume space has always existed and the lumpy bits of the universe expanded into i
          • by anubi ( 640541 )
            Yes... is the Universe rotating? Kinda hard to tell if I am in it - it seems no matter where I stand, everything looks like its rotating around me, and I am the center of the Universe. Being everything I observe out there seems to be in some sort of equilibrium between gravitation and centrifugal force, I have to conjecture the Universe is rotating. Its the only thing I can come up with as to why the universe hasn't imploded.

            I have seen some data saying the rate of expansion of the Universe is increas
            • Actually no - if everything is rotating there will be a definite axis of rotation. Just like if you're on a merry-go-round you can tell where the center is because it's the thing you're going around and are getting "pulled away from" by "centrifugal force". As far as we can tell the universe has no such center.

              More intriguingly, the rate at which distant galaxies are accelerating away from us is proportional to their distance - the further something is from us the faster it's accelerating, which supports

        • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
          Since space and time didn't exist prior to the Big Bang, rotation would have no meaning because rotation is a rate and rates require time.
  • Traceries of the strings of string theory? Swirls of other dimensions writ large? Personally I'm looking forward to finding out what these are, for some reason the way the small is now universe wide is fascinating. - HEX
    • by slew ( 2918 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @07:40PM (#44395857)

      Short story swirls** have nothing to do with strings, nor dimensions, just vanilla big-bang stuff...

      Let's start with what this is.

      Basically, cosmic microwave background radiation (aka CMB) is theorized to be weakly linearly polarized due to scattering processes like Thomson Scattering [] with free-electrons. Since this polarization has 2 net degrees of freedom, you can measure it a few different ways, but one interesting way to do so is to use divergence [] component (aka E-mode), and curl [] (aka B-mode) which comes from an analogy with electromagenetics*** So far they've measured some linear polarization with an E-mode component (since it has divergence only, you can think of as being scattered from the position of the last object/electron it interacted with shortly after the big-bang), but until now they've not confident that they measured any net B-mode component in CMB radiation.

      E-mode polarization measurements in conjunction with theories about the CMB temperature has helped to advance some theory about some cosmological constants. B-mode measurements are interesting in that if detected are likely from stochastic scattering of a radiation field which is theorized to come from some sort of gravitational waves generated when the early universe was undergoing inflation, but unfortunatly since this is a scattering effect, it could also originate as E-mode and later converted to B-mode by gravitational interaction with matter since the big-bang (a kind of gravitational lensing effect). So B-mode is really small and noisy (which is why they had a hard time isolating it), but it might help us understand if the inflation model is consistent with the universe we see.

      **Somehow "curl" [] gets converted "swirls" in laymanspeak...
      ***static electric fields (aka 'E' fields) exhibit net divergence from electrical "charges", but static magnetic (aka 'B'**** fields) don't have this because there aren't magnetic monopoles, so they only exhibit net curl (kind of a rotation), but this scattering polarization "mode" really doesn't have too much to do with this (since even polarized electromagnetic radiation has both E-field and B-field components), except for the general mathematical concepts of div and curl.
      ****Apparently, Maxwell used the letter 'B' (and 'H') to represent magnetic fields when he wrote his Maxell's equations and it stuck. Today, 'M' is commonly used for magnetization (maxwell apparently used 'I' for magnetization and 'C' for current, but now we use 'I' for current so go figure some terminology doesn't stick).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    God gave the Universe a swirly before setting off the Big Bang?

    • Not really.

      What they will find is that if they take the patterns created by the gravity waves and decode them as if they were sound waves, they would find it translates to: "Let there be light." (BTW: Just in case, anybody wonders, that will be in English.)

      • by mcrbids ( 148650 )

        Dunno if you ever noticed, but the "let there be light" happened *before* the sun, stars and planets were created...

        Where did that light come from?

        • Dunno if you ever noticed, but the "let there be light" happened *before* the sun, stars and planets were created...

          Where did that light come from?

          The light was created in transit, to create the image of a universe older than it really is. Thus the stars and stuff could be created later.

          The trick was making sure there wasn't an observable glitch when the post-creation light arrived behind the pre-created light.

        • by Empiric ( 675968 )
          As in Regular Science (TM), light predates all stars and planets.

          There's even a convenient name for when it was most prominent, the Photon Epoch [], starting per physics 3 minutes after the Big Bang.
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      Told you God was a she

  • by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @06:01PM (#44395299)
    But it will end not with a bang but with a whimper.
    • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
      Hmmm... offtopic for quoting Eliot, and a fitting passage at that.

      I could see a troll mod for quoting Plath or maybe even Poe.

      If I had posted something in Klingon about Uranus, it would probably be informative.

      Fucking lack of unicode... grumble...

      [Uranus] ghajtaH Daj yoD bIng 'ej 'oH poSmoH Daq maj N'yengoren!

      • by b4dc0d3r ( 1268512 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @11:10PM (#44396979)

        You chose a quote that people who know nothing of poetry other than random quotes would quote, for the smug feeling of knowing something they think is obscure, or even arcane. And in the process contributed nothing. While out of context it may seem to be a prescient summary of the inevitable heat death of the universe, it is actually much more mundane.

        Given its popularity, would he write the same words again? No. I've only seen copypasta *from* wikipedia, not the original quote, but I have heard approximations from sources before there was an internet.

        One reason is that while the association of the H-bomb is irrelevant to it, it would today come to everyone's mind. Another is that he is not sure the world will end with either. People whose houses were bombed have told him they don't remember hearing anything

        Eliot may be less disapproving of a quote in this context, but it still hardly seems appropriate. Refresh your memory [] if you wish.

  • swirling swirls afterglow...

    Combination of too much tequila and sex?
    At least that is what came to mind.

  • by koan ( 80826 )

    "and possibly shed light on how it all began" no pun intended.

  • by MRe_nl ( 306212 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @07:39PM (#44395847)

    Ah, nodded Arthur, is he? Is he?

  • by Somebody Is Using My ( 985418 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @07:50PM (#44395931) Homepage

    "Eddies," said Ford, "in the space-time continuum."

    "Ah," nodded Arthur, "is he? Is he?" He pushed his hands into the pocket of his dressing gown and looked knowledgeably into the distance.

    "What?" said Ford.

    "Er, who," said Arthur, "is Eddy, then, exactly?"

    Ford looked angrily at him. "Will you listen?" he snapped.

    "I have been listening," said Arthur, "but I'm not sure it's helped."

    Ford grasped him by the lapels of his dressing gown and spoke to him as slowly and distinctly and patiently as if he were somebody from a telephone company accounts department. "There seem ..." he said, "to be some pools ..." he said, "of instability ..." he said, "in the fabric ..." he said ...

    Arthur looked foolishly at the cloth of his dressing gown where Ford was holding it. Ford swept on before Arthur could turn the foolish look into a foolish remark.

    "... in the fabric of space-time," he said.

    "Ah, that," said Arthur.

    "Yes, that," confirmed Ford.

    They stood there alone on a hill on prehistoric Earth and stared each other resolutely in the face.

    "And it's done what?" said Arthur.

    "It," said Ford, "has developed pools of instability."

    "Has it?" said Arthur, his eyes not wavering for a moment.

    "It has," said Ford with a similar degree of ocular immobility.

    "Good," said Arthur.

    "See?" said Ford.

    "No," said Arthur.

    There was a quiet pause.

    "The difficulty with this conversation," said Arthur after a sort of pondering look had crawled slowly across his face like a mountaineer negotiating a tricky outcrop, "is that it's very different from most of the ones I've had of late. Which, as I explained, have mostly been with trees. They weren't like this. Except perhaps some of the ones I've had with elms which sometimes get a bit bogged down."

    "Arthur," said Ford.

    "Hello? Yes?" said Arthur.

    "Just believe everything I tell you, and it will all be very, very simple."

    "Ah, well I'm not sure I believe that."

    They sat down and composed their thoughts.

    Ford got out his Sub-Etha Sens-O-Matic. It was making vague humming noises and a tiny light on it was flickering faintly.

    "Flat battery?" said Arthur.

    "No," said Ford, "there is a moving disturbance in the fabric of space+ time, an eddy, a pool of instability, and it's somewhere in our vicinity."


    Ford moved the device in a slow lightly bobbing semi-circle. Suddenly the light flashed.

    "There!" said Ford, shooting out his arm. "There, behind that sofa!"

    Arthur looked. Much to his surprise, there was a velvet paisley covered Chesterfield sofa in the field in front of them. He boggled intelligently at it. Shrewd questions sprang into his mind.

    "Why," he said, "is there a sofa in that field?"

    "I told you!" shouted Ford, leaping to his feet. "Eddies in the space-time continuum!"

    "And this is his sofa, is it?" asked Arthur, struggling to his feet and, he hoped, though not very optimistically, to his senses.

    (from /Life, The Universe and Everything/ by Douglas if you didn't know)

  • Since we all seem to be guessing about how it all started I would like to put forth my $0.02 worth. Firstly, there was no "Bang", big or little, as there would be no medium for sound to travel through. No flash of light either. No explicit location or time. The stuff of creation was hydrogen because the heavier elements are created in the fusion of stars which comes much later. Hydrogen is about as close to "nothingness" as it gets on the periodic table. Hydrogen can be infinitely compressed. Hydrogen will
    • Hydrogen can be infinitely compressed.

      Edward Teller would like a word with you.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Hydrogen can be infinitely compressed.

      No, it is quite difficult to compress it beyond a certain point without fusion or forming some type of degenerate matter like what would be in a neutron star. The ability to expand infinitely could be done with any other element too.

  • by BaldingByMicrosoft ( 585534 ) on Friday July 26, 2013 @09:30PM (#44396561)

    From TFA:
    "...But first scientists must detect B-modes of any kind. That's what the team with the South Pole Telescope (SPT), a 10-meter dish in Antarctica, has done. B-modes can come from "foreground" radiation from within our galaxy, or when the gravity from the vast web of matter that fills the universe distorts the image of E-modes in the CMB. That distortion is called gravitation lensing, and SPT has observed lensing-induced B-modes..."

    It then goes on to basically admit that other teams are better equipped to find actual B-modes in the CMB.

    A fine job of pattern-matching, but not what is advertised.

  • The Snarl is showing! Must find the gates!

  • For how many more generations -- in the complete absense of -any- result from -any- gravity-wave detector -- will people continue to hold onto the concept?

    We finally let go of instantaneous-action-at-a-distance some time ago. But we continue to make ineffable mystical inferences from our love of simpifying mathematics. Occam-pretty models aside, there is zero evidence that gravity is wavelike or particle-like in any way. Suggesting that it is an emergent quantum property. Whatever we see that appears to "c

Disks travel in packs.