Some 50 scientists from UC San Diego, Caltech, Stanford, Harvard and the University of Minnesota spent 13 years working toward the discovery.
“It’s kind of an amazing thing to be a part of; it hasn’t fully sunk in yet,” said Brian Keating, associate professor of physics at UCSD, who is part of the group that presented the new findings. “To think that this little germ of an idea that some of us had years ago could be taking us back to what we think is the very instance of the creation of the universe.”
Keating created the telescope that made the discovery. They believe they’ve captured traces left over by cosmic inflation that happened 13.8 billion years ago. The findings need to be confirmed by independent peer review and other methodologies but the implications are significant.
“What we’ve done is to help potentially to help answer the oldest question of human kind, ‘How did we come to exist?’” said Keating. “The discovery has essentially captured the smoking gun of the explosion the smoke left over from a vast explosion that took place at the beginning of time.”
The scientists used a detector in the South Pole to capture the heat left-over from that explosion. The so-called Big Bang is widely challenged by theologians who credit a divine creator of the universe.
“If you’re a religious person you might say it’s designed. If not, you’ll say it has the conditions for life to come into existence,” said Keating of the aftermath.
The release of the findings had scientists across the globe abuzz on Monday.
“This will launch complete new vistas both in physics and other branches in science, and philosophy,” said Keating. “People will debate about this for years to come.”
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