This March, the media was sparked into a frenzy by reports of the first sightings of gravitational waves in the cosmic microwave background. There was talk of ‘breakthroughs’, ‘new frontiers of Physics’, ‘smoking guns’ and, of course, Nobel Prizes. The announcement was made by a team working on data from the BICEP2 telescope, who claimed to have discovered signals in the first ever light emitted in the universe. These signals hint at a time even earlier than that, a time that we will never be able to measure directly and that has teased scientists since its proposal in 1980: inflation.
Inflation is an idea put forward to explain why the universe appears to be at such an even temperature.
Hello everyone 🙂
Last night I went to the final of the ‘three minute wonder’ competition, run by the Institute of Physics. The finalists were scientists from all sorts of disciplines and each had three minutes plus one slide or a video to explain their research to a non-science audience. The timing was tight – if they were more or less than I think five seconds under or over they had a point deducted.
Awesomely it was held at the Royal Institution in the nice purple Faraday lecture theatre where the Christmas lectures are presented, and it was free too! Doors opened an hour earlier for drinks and a chance to look around the museum-y bits of the Royal Institution—sadly Will and I didn’t realise how interesting it would be, so only arrived with enough time to grab a glass of wine and notice the dastardly device that first spotted Bragg Diffraction (the bane of many a second-year’s life.) I definitely need to go back and see the exhibits—there was also a wall-sized periodic table that played the element song—the one where they list all the elements to that Gilbert and Sullivan tune—with the aim to keep up and tap the elements in the right order!