Remember when a signal was detected in the cosmic microwave background’s polarization? It was used for every purpose from bashing Christians to claiming that gravitational waves strengthen the case for a multiverse. Indeed, National Geographic considered the waves evidence of a multiverse. (But when people are determined to believe something, they find evidence everywhere.) Now this:
Maybe it was just dust. From New Scientist:
An imprint left on ancient cosmic light that was attributed to ripples in spacetime – and hailed by some as the discovery of the century – may have been caused by ashes from an exploding star.
In the most extreme scenario, the finding could suggest that what looked like a groundbreaking result was only a false alarm. Another possibility is that the stellar ashes could help bring the result in line with other cosmic observations. We should know which it is later this year, when researchers report new results from the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite.
Or the polarization might be a result of needle-shaped dust that reflects the CMB differently depending on angle. Again, this was seen in the experiments preceding BICEP2 so the telescope was pointed away from most of the galactic dust lanes. Aerosols in the air might cause the effect, just as blue sky gets polarized. So BICEP2 was stationed at the South Pole to get the best view of the out-of-galactic, out-of-contamination, away-from-galaxy view of the CMB.
When the data was processed, the signal was still there, and stronger than the scientists had expected. This led to the hope that perhaps it wasn’t an artifact of matter in the universe, perhaps it was actually a property of the CMB itself. More.
Sheldon’s view is that, using Occam’s razor, dust should have been the first hypothesis.
The logic of the multiverse explains why it ended up being the last.
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