Big Bang Theory Breakthrough Under Scrutiny

A recent discovery of gravitational waves by astrophysicists seems to have provided more evidence of the Big Bang theory to explain the origin of the universe. Unfortunately, scientists haven’t yet collected enough information about the discovery to confirm whether or not the waves prove a key component of the Big Bang theory. Some experts doubt the significance of the waves and their connection to the universe’s beginnings.

According to News Week, it will take until October at least for astrophysicists to gather enough evidence to connect the gravitational waves to the evolution of the cosmos. The initial discovery was made in March by Harvard University. Scientists used a telescope in the South Pole known as the Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization 2 (BICEP2) to observe subtle ripples in a map of polarization, glowing as a result of the Big Bang. Scientists call these traces of light the cosmic microwave background. The Harvard team searched for a slight twisting pattern in the ancient light and recorded wave activity, which indicates a sudden, rapid expansion of the universe when it began almost 14 billion years ago–the essence of the Big Bang theory.

The discovery was made by a team of astrophysicists led by John Kovac and including Jamie Bock, Clem Pryke and Chao-Lin Kuo. According to Daily Galaxy, Kovac said that “Detecting this signal is one of the most important goals in cosmology today.”


All scientific discoveries are peer-reviewed and analyzed by other experts in the field to ensure scientific integrity. If scientists determine that the fluctuations in the light are legitimate evidence of waves sent rippling through the universe 380,000 years after the Big Bang, the Harvard team could be considered for a Nobel Prize.

But it may not be that easy. Experts are casting doubt on the Big Bang discovery. The director of Princeton University’s Center for Theoretical Science, Paul Steinhardt, expressed his skepticism in the journal Nature, “Serious flaws in the analysis have been revealed that transform the sure detection into no detection.”

The analysis Steinhardt is referring to is the work of another theoretical astrophysicist named David Spergel. He doubts that the wave fluctuations actually came about as a result of the Big Bang. He explained his doubts to AFP:

“What I think, it is not certain whether polarized emissions come from galactic dust or from the early universe. We know that galactic dust emits polarized radiations, we see that in many areas of the sky, and what we pointed out in our paper is that pattern they have seen is just as consistent with the galactic dust radiations as with gravitational waves.”

Spergel went on to urge the Harvard team to revise their Big Bang theory claim, having announced the discovery without having gathered all the facts. Members of the team have declined to comment on the skepticism.

What do you think? Have scientists truly discovered evidence of the Big Bang theory?

This particular astronomical discovery may be up for debate, but scientists do think they’ve accurately determined the origin of our moon.

[Images courtesy of NASA]