Cosmic Deflation: Doubts Raised Over Blockbuster Big Bang Study

TIME

It was just weeks ago that astronomers announced a major, double-barreled discovery: using a super-sensitive microwave telescope known as BICEP2, they had seen evidence of gravity waves that roiled the cosmos before it was a billionth of a trillionth of a second old. That was part one; part two was that the observed gravity waves strongly confirmed the theory of cosmic inflation—that the entire universe went into warp overdrive, expanding faster than the speed of light for the tiniest fraction of a second.

It was Nobel-level work, no doubt about it—provided it was true. But from the moment it was announced at a high-profile press conference, outside scientists had their doubts. There was reason to suspect, they said, that the Harvard-led team might actually have detected nothing more exciting than interstellar dust in the Milky Way. And now a paper expected to go online today, written by Raphael Flauger…

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