cosmology / Physics / Science And Math

The CMB Axis of Evil and the Nature of Randomness

axis of evil planck

This Halloween, Nature News released an article titled Zombie Physics: 6 Baffling Results that Just Won’t Die. It’s a fun article describing several mysteries in physics whose solution sits in a sort of limbo. For fun, I figured, I’d explain some of these mysteries, and give my opinion about possible solutions. And first, I’m going to discuss the CMB Axis of Evil, a strange pattern in the leftover radiation from the Big Bang. A Much-Too-Short Summary of Cosmic Inflation and the CMB About 13.8 billion years ago, the universe was extremely hot, so hot that matter couldn’t form at

Astrophysics / cosmology / Physics / etc.

The Universe Is an Inside-Out Star

the CMB on our sky

No, not really. But as we’ll see, it’s a useful analogy. Today we’ll learn about sound waves in the sun and how, if we imagine that the universe is the sun but inside-out, these are the same as the sound waves that filled the early universe. DISCLAIMER: This is a pedagogical exercise only! I am not claiming the universe is ACTUALLY an inside-out star or that scientists think of it as one. Sound Waves in the Sun I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I say that the sun is a complicated beast. A nuclear furnace burning at tens

Condensed Matter / cosmology / Physics / etc.

BICEP2, Primordial Gravity Waves, and Cosmic Inflation

“Like the microscopic strands of DNA that predetermine the identity of a macroscopic species and the unique properties of its members, the modern look and feel of the cosmos was writ in the fabric of its earliest moments, and carried relentlessly through time and space. We feel it when we look up. We feel it when we look down. We feel it when we look within.” ~Niel Degrasse Tyson There was some very big news today! If you haven’t already heard, the BICEP2 research group at Harvard has found evidence of ancient gravitational waves in the sky. A lot

cosmology / Physics / Relativity / etc.

Fixing the Early Universe: Cosmic Inflation

A brief history of time, as Hawking would say.

Expansion means complexity and complexity decay. ~Cyril Northcote Parkinson This is part three of a series on the early universe. In the first article, I described the history of the Big Bang theory and why we believe the universe started in a colossal explosion. In the second article, I described some inconsistencies in the Big Bang theory that need correcting. Now I’ll explain how the theory of cosmic inflation addresses these inconsistencies and why we might believe it in inflation. This explanation will use ideas from quantum mechanics and general relativity; you can find my articles on these subjects

cosmology / Geometry / Mathematics / etc.

A Mess of Cosmic Coincidences: Problems With the Big Bang Theory

Awe! She's so cute!

The furthest bodies To which man sends his Speculation, Beyond which God is; The cosmic motes Of yawning lenses. ~Robert Frost, I Will Sing You One-0 I apologize for the long time of silence! I graduated from the University of Colorado about a month ago and was immediately assaulted by a huge amount of family affairs… and then caught up in moving. Sorry about this, everyone! My regular Sunday update schedule should resume next week. Last time, I described the theory of the Big Bang. I gave some history of the theory, and some reasons for why we believe

cosmology / Physics / Relativity / etc.

Always Walk Away From An Explosion—The Story of the Big Bang


We were fortunate to be there a day or two before ‘the big bang’ and then we got the heck out of town. ~Scotty Moore A few weeks ago, +Matthew Villaneuva asked the following question on Google+: Does anybody else find the Big Bang (the scientific explanation on how the universe got created) weird? Actually, yes! Just a century ago, everyone believed that the universe was static—i.e., that it had always existed and that it would always continue to exist. Even Albert Einstein held this view. I previously explained why we know the universe is expanding, so I’m going