New Discovery Makes (Gravitational) Waves


Image from the Hubble Telescope (Wikimedia Commons)

Image from the Hubble Telescope (Wikimedia Commons)

File the following story under: Awesome. Because it’s not that often that a revolutionary scientific theory is confirmed by actual observation. And it’s even less likely that such confirmation comes while the original scientist is still alive. And it’s almost unheard of that the team that makes the confirmation works just down the road from the scientist who proposed the first radical idea. But that is exactly what happened this week when an astronomy team announced that it has detected gravitational waves… ripples in space…. that prove a cornerstone of Big Bang theory.

That cornerstone is called cosmological inflation, the infinitesimally small slice of time at the birth of the universe when space-time expanded much faster than its surroundings. A Harvard team made this week’s discovery, and one of the founders of the original concept, first proposed 35 years ago, works a little further down Mass Ave. at M.I.T.


Alan Guth, MIT theoretical physicist. His theory of cosmological inflation was supported by this discovery.

John Kovac, Associate Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University. He led the team that made this discovery.

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