HMC Physics Colloquium
Tuesdays at 16:30 in Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning, Room B460
Oct. 7, 2014
Our modern account of cosmic history begins with a period of extraordinarily rapid expansion known as inflation. This epoch established the large-scale geometry and uniformity of our universe, as well as sowing the seeds of later galaxy formation. Inflation should further have imprinted a spectrum of primordial gravitational waves onto the universe at cosmological scales. These gravitational waves should have left a unique "twist" signature in the polarization of the cosmic microwave background radiation, the afterglow of the hot early universe. In March the BICEP2 collaboration shocked the world by announcing the detection of just this twist pattern, after three years of targeted observation from the South Pole. In this talk I will describe the BICEP2 instrument, its remarkable measurement, and our current understanding of what it may mean. I will also describe some of the upcoming instruments that are continuing the search for the echoes of inflation.