“The paradigm of physics — with its interplay of data, theory and prediction — is the most powerful in science.” –Geoffrey West
So earlier this year, the BICEP2 team shook up the world by announcing the discovery of primordial gravitational waves: a signal from the earliest stages of the Universe, going all the way back to before the Big Bang!
By looking at the photon polarization data, they claimed to have surpassed the gold “5σ” standard for announcing a discovery in physics. But recently, that’s been walked back, as there could have been a systematic error at play: simple emission from our own Milky Way.
Later this month, the Planck team will release their results, and either confirm or refute BICEP2. Here’s where we stand on the eve of that announcement.