Friday, March 28, 2014

How I learned an important tenet of Inflation (universe that is) Theory


Even though this isn't the gravitational waves. It's an old image of the cosmic background radiation in microwave and wow, I love the colors. Image: A map of the CMB created by the COBE satellite (credit: NASA, DMR, COBE Project).


Here's another image, more related. AP Photo/BICEP2 Collaboration, I found on Diane Rehm Show web site. Several interesting interviews coming out.

In my file box of correspondence is this letter from National Geographic Magazine, circa 1983 (image below). I bring it up in light of the recent discoveries about the Big Bang Theory related to gravity waves in the cosmic background radiation.

The recent finding is strong evidence for the "inflation theory" version of the Big Bang. Inflation theory has been around a while and was featured in a 1983 addition of National Geographic Magazine. They did a big colorful feature on theories about the origin of the universe. When I read the article, back in 1983, I thought I had found a mistake. Article talked about the edge of the universe expanding billions, or maybe even trillions, of miles during it's first seconds of life. I thought, "how can that be as it would be traveling faster than the speed of light?" Supposedly nothing can travel faster than the speed of light so I wrote them thinking I had found a mistake.

I thought, maybe they'll even print my letter in National Geographic. It's hard to get a letter published there as they have millions upon millions of readers. Letter didn't get printed, but I did get this interesting form letter back. Letter was to all of us folks who brought up that question and thought we had found a mistake. One of the letters on that "non mistake" was printed and the rest of us got this form reply.

Turns out the universe, itself, is exempt from the rule that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. Space/time, itself, can travel faster than light, but nothing within space/time can do so. That's a major tenet of "inflation theory." That's also when I first learned about inflation theory. Space/time itself inflating, like a bubble for a brief moment, faster than light.

That was back when inflation theory was still just one of many theories. Now, 2014, its still one of many theories, but due to the recent findings in the cosmic background radiation, inflation theory is gaining traction.



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