Tuesday, January 13, 2009

To See Before Time

Seeing before time sounds like a poetic fancy or the end of a bad SF story in which God's hand is seen creating the universe, but an upcoming ESA satellite, Planck, may allow scientists to do just that, in a manner of speaking.

A recent challenge for scientists has been that fact that the universe seems to have larger "fluctuations in the density and temperature of the radiation left over from the theoretical Big Bang" on one side of the universe. Clara Moskowitz notes on MSNBC.com that Planck, launching this year, should be able to determine if the universe's lopsidedness is real or merely an artifact of less sensative data collection.

The standard model of Inflation cannot account for this perceived variation but a recently published model by Caltech astrophysicists Sean Carroll and Marc Kamionkowski and graduate student Adrienne Erickcek theorizes that two separate fields are necessary for inflation to account for this.

If the universe's unevenness is real then the new model will provide not only an explanation for current conditions but also a small window into pre-Big Bang conditions, effectively seeing before the begining of time (the Big Bang).

1 comment:

Beam Me Up said...

Dave, you could not ask for a better submission! I have been talking about this for weeks now and mentioned it in passing concerning a discovery channel program I was watching on this very same (welll somewhat the same) subject. The fact that we can see some 13 billion years into the past by looking to the edge of the universe. But if we can see an object 13 billion years away and they can see us....we can not see past them but we know there is something there because we can see 13billion years in the opposite direction! It would seem that space expands twice the speed of light!!! This article is a perfect follow on!