Local Astronomers: Big Bang Breakthrough Impacts Future Research - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Local Astronomers: Big Bang Breakthrough Impacts Future Research

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Earlier this week, scientists announced a groundbreaking discovery involving a breakthrough in the Big Bang Theory.

"...Direct evidence, effectively, of ripples in spacetime, but they're the size, basically, of the whole universe. These ripples in spacetime were imprinted there at the earliest, tiniest fraction of a second. It gives us knowledge of the highest energies, which is pretty amazing," said Dr. Scott Ransom, an astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank. Ransom said nowadays, the universe is accelerating in its expansion.

"It expanded much faster than the speed of light, which is kind of a strange thing. All of the universe was expanding. This whole process is known as inflation," said Ransom.

In order to understand "inflation," imagine the expansion of the universe in terms of baking a blueberry muffin. The galaxies spread throughout the universe are the blueberries. As the dough bakes, the blueberries don't expand themselves, but space around them does.

"At the time of the Big Bang, there were no galaxies. The only thing that there was were quantum fluctuations, which do this super, amazing, faster-than-light expansion. Those quantum fluctuations turn into waves that get imprinted," said Ransom.

For scientists like Ransom, the discovery didn't just break barriers on an international level. It also reinforced research that is conducted right here in West Virginia.

Marcus Fisher from NASA's IV&V Program in Fairmont says from his perspective, a primary focus is the type of technology used in the discovery: in Harvard's case, the BICEP2 on the South Pole.