My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: BICEP2 discovers B-Mode Polarization, sign of Gravitational Waves - How After Two Years, Space Dust Clouding Nobel Prize in Physics

Monday, August 4, 2014

BICEP2 discovers B-Mode Polarization, sign of Gravitational Waves - How After Two Years, Space Dust Clouding Nobel Prize in Physics

“Detecting this signal is one of the most important goals in cosmology today. A lot of work by a lot of people has led up to this point”

Dr.  John Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for AstroPhysics and Team Leader of the BICEP2 collaboration

If you’ve been following my blog thus far, you’d remember the BICEP2 (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization 2) experiment at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station located at the South Pole and their Discovery of Gravitational Waves as detailed in “Scientists Detect Direct Evidence of Big Bang’s Gravitational Waves”, published March 17, 2014 by Stephen Luntz, I Fucking Love Science and “First Direct Evidence of Cosmic Inflation”, published Monday, March 17, 2014 - 10:45am, Harvard.

BICEP2 is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), which also runs the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station at the South Pole where the Keck Telescope is also located. BICEP2 also gets assistance and technical know-how in the design of the 250 Microwave Polarization Detectors on the Telescope from the following:

1.      The  Keck  Foundation
2.      NASA (National Aeronautical Space Administration)
3.      JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
4.      Moore Foundation 

The BICEP2 Team was led by Dr. John Kovac of the Harvard University along with the following PI:

1.      Dr. John Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for AstroPhysics and Team Leader
2.      Dr.  Clem Pryke (UMN), 
3.      Dr. Jamie Bock of Caltech/JPL
4.      Dr. Chao-Lin Kuo of Stanford University/SLAC

They also got loads of assistance from Astronomy and Physics students and scientists who apparently had nothing to do so decided that going to the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station at the South Pole as well as spending lazy weekends crunching through massive amounts of Data collected over a two year span from January 2010 and December 2012 was worth their time.

I’d mentioned the discovery in an article on the discovery of a Triple Black Hole System by Astronomer Dr. Roger Dean of the University of Cape Town in the Galaxy SDSS J150243.1+111557 some 4 to 5 billion light years as explained in my blog article entitled “Dr Roger Deane discovers Trinary Black Holes in SDSS J150243.1+111557 Galaxy - Gravitational Waves, Bicep2 Team Three Black Hole Double Galaxy Love Triangle”.

That discovery was to provide a test case for the existence of Gravitational Waves, as the gravimetric distortion created by this Trinary System of Black Holes meant that if they exist, their effects should be observable.

This is important folks; we may be witnessing the next set of Nobel Prize Winners for their discovery of proof that the Inflationary Model for the Universe is correct. To quote Dr. Marc Kamionkowski, professor of Physics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins University, who'd predicted back in 1997 how these gravitational Imprints could be found: “This is huge. It’s not every day that you wake up and find out something completely new about the early Universe. To me this is as Nobel Prize–worthy as it gets.”

It also suggests that larger Higg Bosons exist, bigger than the one discovered on than Wednesday July 4th 2012 as stated in my blog article entitled “Higgs Boson Discovery is the Biggest discovery of 2012 - Lay the Favourite for Anti-Gravity, Light Speed Travel and Quantum Teleportation Deadfall”.

That discovery, made after forty five (45) years of Research using the LHS (Large Hadron Super Collider) from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), earned both Dr. Francois Englert and Dr. Peter Higgs the Nobel Prize for Physics as declared in my blog article entitled “Dr. Francois Englert and Dr. Peter Higgs awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of the Higgs Boson - Congratulations in order for the Real Big Bang Theory”.

Gravitational Waves discovered by BICEP2 - Primordial B-Mode Polarization from the CMB

So how did BICEP2 make this groundbreaking Nobel Prize-worthy discovery? First a quick primer on the Inflationary Theory and the CMB (Cosmic Microwave Background) Radiation as explained in “Gravitational Waves from Big Bang Detected”, published Mar 17, 2014 By Clara Moskowitz, Scientific American.

The Inflationary Theory is the lead Theory held as gospel by astronomers as to how the Universe came to be. It's occurred just a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second or 10-43 seconds after the Big Bang Theory, which is like the show, but a LOT Stranger! Ironically the Theme Song actually does a fairly decent job of explaining it!

The Inflationary Theory relates to what happened in the 10-43 seconds AFTER the initial Big Bang Theory. At that point, the three (3) of the four (4) forces that define the Universe were combined in as one common unified force known as the Unified Field:

1.      The Strong Force – this binds the Elementary Particle that create the nuclei of Atoms and all Matter
2.      The Weak Force – this causes radioactive decay in the Nuclei of Atoms and all Matter
3.      Electromagnetic Force – combined, this accounts for Electromagnetic Radiation and its observable properties
4.      Gravity – This Force acts over large distance and is basically the observable force of attraction between Matter at the Macroscopic level

At that point, the Inflation was also taking place, driven by that Fourth Force that was liberated some 10-43 seconds after the Big Bang occurred: Gravity. At about 380,000 years after the Big Bang occurred, Neutral Atoms with Protons, Neutrons and orbiting Electrons began to form.

Matter was more spread more evenly across the then growing and expanding Universe, making it easier for Electromagnetic Radiation to travel without being absorbed and cause the excitation of electrons from their Ground State to an Excited State.

The freely floating Microwave Radiation that was left over was called the CMB, which was discovered accidentally by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson in 1964, who initially mistook it for interference caused by pigeon droppings on their antenna. After they realized what it really was, they made their discovery known and by 1978 the pair of scientists won the Nobel Prize in Physics.

BICEP2 Team - 250 Microwave Polarization Detectors equals 5-sigma Level of Truth

The BICEP2 Team with their Telescope equipped with 250 Microwave Polarization Detectors is also on a similar path. They'd taken readings between January 2010 and December 2012 at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, where the cold, dry air makes the sky particularly clear and provides unobscured view of the sky, with little or no atmospheric dust to block Microwave Radiation from the CMB.

This as observed by Dr. John Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for AstroPhysics and Team Leader Quote: “The South Pole is the closest you can get to space and still be on the ground. It's one of the driest and clearest locations on Earth, perfect for observing the faint microwaves from the Big Bang”

Interestingly, another South Pole Telescope reported detecting B-Mode Polarization in 2013, but it was quickly ruled to be distortion caused by Gravitational Lensing of the CMB from a massive Galaxy rather the expected B-Mode Polarization Ripples expected. Aside from that Telescope, BICEP2 was also competing against the several other Telescopes looking for B-Mode Polarization in the CMB, the main ones being:

1.      Atacama B-mode Search (ABS) led by Princeton University
2.      POLARBEAR experiment led by the University of California, Berkeley
3.      The high-altitude balloon–borne E and B Experiment (EBEX) run by the University of Minnesota
4.      The Cosmology Large Angular Scale Surveyor (CLASS) led by Johns Hopkins University

Combined with the great viewing conditions at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, the Telescope with the 250 Microwave Polarization Detectors designed by Dr. Chao-Lin Kuo, a Physicist at Stanford University, not only discovered the B-Mode Polarization, but it was a very strong signal as well.

It apparently reminded the BICEP2 Team of the swirling clouds on planet Earth, only these were made up of Microwave Radiation some 14 billion years old to quote Dr. Chao-Lin Kuo, a Physicist at Stanford University: “It looks like a swirly pattern on the sky. We’ve found the smoking gun evidence for inflation and we’ve also produced the first image of gravitational waves across the sky”.

This level of signal was so strong that it gave the BICEP2 team enough Data to surpass the “5-sigma” statistical significance threshold for their find to be declared to be a bonafide discovery. It also made the BICEP2 Team doubt themselves, actually delaying the announcement of their discovery for almost 2 years!

Theorist and Astronomer Dr. Alan Guth of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the persons who originally predicted the Inflationary Theory, regarded the discovery as being too good to be true, quote:  “There’s a chance it could be wrong, but I think it’s highly probable that the results stand up. I think they’ve done an incredibly good job of analysis.”

So they decided to be patient and wait until the Keck Array, came online and began showing the same result, making Dr. Chao-Lin Kuo a lot more confidents, quote: “That played a major role in convincing us this is something real”. Part of that reason for doubting was that the ratio for r, which was a ratio between the gravitational wave fluctuations in the CMB to the fluctuations caused by perturbations in the density of Matter, was higher than predicted, at roughly 0.20.

Based on estimates from the CMB maps from the WMAP (Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe) and the Planck Satellite, r was estimated to be 0.11; this higher-than-normal value suggested that Gravity, the source of these Gravitational Waves, got liberate much earlier, probably the 10-43 second mark after the Big Bang Theory occurred, which marks the start of Inflation.

What a difference a little r makes, with theories basically makes the rounds to explain the anomalies as noted by Theorist and Astronomer Dr. Alan Guth, quote: “Everything hinges on this little r. And this measurement changes things quite a bit. In fact, the models that looked like they were ruled out last week are now the models that are favored this week.” 

BICEP2 Team – After Two Years, Space Dust in our Eyes Clouding Nobel Prize in Physics

That’s the bummer and what makes this story so interesting and worth writing about. Less than three (3) months after they’d made their discovery, the BICEP2 Team began to express doubts in their findings as stated in “Big Bang Discovery Comes Under Fire”, published MAY 14, 2014 by Dan Vergano, National Geographic.

In fact, in a Dr. Adam Falkowski of the Laboratory of Theoretical Physics of Orsay, France, pointed out in a blog post that the B-Mode Polarization that they observed could be due to Microwave Radiation coming from Dust as stated in “BICEP2 Team Admit Breakthrough Evidence For Big Bang Could Just Be Dust”, published June 23, 2014  by Justine Alford, I Fucking Love Science.

The main culprit seems to the CMB Map provided by the Planck Satellite, which may not have resolved and filtered out Microwave Radiation caused by dust. So an air of uncertainty hangs around BICEP2’s claim of having detected Gravitational waves.

Hence the current search for proof of Gravitation waves from such gravitational anomalies such as Trinary Black Holes as explained in in my blog article entitled “Dr Roger Deane discovers Trinary Black Holes in SDSS J150243.1+111557 Galaxy - Gravitational Waves, Bicep2 Team Three Black Hole Double Galaxy Love Triangle”.

Ditto too the work of Dr. Duncan Galloway of Monash University as detailed in his paper in The Astrophysical Journal. His Team has commandeered the  William Herschel Telescope at La Palma, Canary Islands​ as well as the Very Large Telescope to study Scorpius X-1, a Binary System located in the Constellation Scorpius  some 6000 Light Years away as stated in “Researchers Getting Closer To Proving Gravitational Waves From Neutron Stars”, published July 1, 2014 by Lisa Winter, I Fucking Love Science. It consists of a Neutron Star feeding off a companion star.

The aim of Dr. Duncan Galloway, as detailed in his Press Release, is akin to that of Astronomer Dr. Roger Dean of the University of Cape Town; Detecting Gravitational Waves, quote: “We have made a concerted effort to refine Scorpius X-1's orbit and other parameters, with the goal of significantly boosting the sensitivity of searches for gravitational waves. Detecting gravitational waves will open a new window for observation and allow us to study objects in the universe in a way that can't be achieved using traditional astronomy techniques.”

But there’s a light coming at the end of this tunnel. The EU Team that runs the Planck Satellite plans to remap the sky and produce a dust-free CMB map by October 2014 that accounts for the Microwave Radiation from Dust. Also, the other mentioned hunters for proof of B-Mode Polarization of Microwave Radiation emanating from the CMB, wary of these concerns, will be fine tuning their instruments and correcting for Dust.

Hopefully, when they detect the B-Mode Polarization sans the Space Dust, it’ll help to confirm the BICEP2’s original discovery in March 2014 that’ll set them on a course for the Nobel Prize in Physics by the latest 2015 for this groundbreaking discovery.

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