It was hoped that Planck might find direct evidence in the CMB’s polarisation for inflation – the super-rapid expansion of space thought to have occurred just fractions of a second after the Big Bang. This has not been possible. But all the Planck data – temperature and polarisation information – is consistent with that theory, and the precision measurements mean new, tighter constraints have been put on the likely scale of the inflation signal, which other experiments continue to chase.
What is clear from the Planck investigation is that the simplest models for how the super-rapid expansion might have worked are probably no longer tenable, suggesting some exotic physics will eventually be needed to explain it.
“We’re now being pushed into a parameter space we didn’t expect to be in,” said collaboration scientist Dr Andrew Jaffe from Imperial College, UK. “That’s OK. We like interesting physics; that’s why we’re physicists, so there’s no problem with that. It’s just we had this naïve expectation that the simplest answer would be right, and sometimes it just isn’t.”
If we stopped looking for the multiverse, we wouldn’t find it, but then we won’t find it anyway.
By the way, try this out next time you are disputingdefending a traffic ticket: “Some exotic physics will eventually be needed to explain it.” Maybe later, but not just now.
See also: Why we pay people to have all these silly theories but have not been to the moon in forty years.
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