The obvious questions and their brief answers, for those wanting to know what’s going on today. If you already know roughly what’s going on and want the bottom line, read the answer to the last question.
You may want to start by reading my History of the Universe articles, or at least having them available for reference.
The expectation is that today we’re going to hear from the BICEP2 experiment.
- What is BICEP2?
BICEP2, located at the South Pole, is an experiment that looks out into the sky to study the polarization of the electromagnetic waves that are the echo of the Hot Big Bang; these waves are called the “cosmic microwave background”.
- What are electromagnetic waves?
Electromagnetic waves are waves in the electric and magnetic fields that are present everywhere in space. Visible light is an electromagnetic wave, as are X-rays, radio waves, and microwaves; the only difference between these types of electromagnetic waves is how fast they wiggle and how long the distance is from one wave crest to the next.