Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Science Close To Viewing The Beginning Of Time, University Of Washington Cosmologist Says

Date:
March 22, 2002
Source:
University Of Washington
Summary:
New research tools promise tantalizing glimpses of characteristics in the universe that until now have gone unseen. "We might, in a technical sense, soon observe the beginning of time," University of Washington cosmologist Craig Hogan writes in the March 22 edition of the journal Science.

When it comes to inflation, cosmologists are pondering a future that probably would leave even Alan Greenspan scratching his head. Of course, the Federal Reserve chairman is merely concerned with economic policy and hasn't had to stare down the complexities of how the universe pumped up after the Big Bang.

Related Articles


And now, new research tools promise tantalizing glimpses of characteristics in the universe that until now have gone unseen.

"We might, in a technical sense, soon observe the beginning of time," University of Washington cosmologist Craig Hogan writes in the March 22 edition of the journal Science.

It was just a decade ago that a National Aeronautics and Space Administration project called the Cosmic Background Explorer, or COBE, began returning data aimed at mapping the universe's background radiation, which was first observed in 1965. That radiation is residual heat from the Big Bang, the event that sparked the beginning of the universe some 13 billion years ago.

COBE produced a map that included ripples, or amplitude fluctuations, in the structure of space-time across billions of light years. Those ripples are the largest structures humans ever will be able to see, Hogan said. But they also are greatly magnified images of the smallest structures ever visible – the same fluctuations that started out smaller than a subatomic particle at the Big Bang, then were frozen into the fabric of space-time and stretched as inflation expanded the universe to its current size.

Upcoming projects promise even more-detailed information, said Hogan, a UW physics and astronomy professor.

In a Perspective article for Science, he discusses the possibility that new experiments will shed clues about subatomic particles called gravitons and perhaps bring enough information to unite quantum mechanics and relativity, the two great theories rooted in the work of Albert Einstein. These new experiments include a NASA mission called Microwave Anisotropy Probe, or MAP, that was launched last year with a mission to collect information to chart the microwave light left over from the Big Bang.

Unlike subatomic particles that make up matter and energy as we know them, gravitons are elementary particles that compose the fabric of space and time.

"No one has ever seen a graviton, but with these new efforts we might," Hogan said. "If you can see gravitons in these maps, then you'll start to see the essence of space and time and matter."

Hogan also believes the next generation of research might shed light on other cosmological puzzles. One of these involves the holographic principle, which states that everything that happens three-dimensionally can actually be specified by the amount of information it would take to project it two-dimensionally, like a hologram. If that turns out to be true, Hogan speculates that all the information needed to show the entire universe during early inflation, shortly after the Big Bang, could have fit on a compact disc.

Whatever is learned from the new research, Hogan said, will lend to the basic scientific understanding of time, space, matter and energy. And while that might sound terribly esoteric, he said, it could turn out to have very practical applications.

He noted that Einstein's theory of space-time and gravity, called general relativity, was long regarded as something of an elegant ornament for the science of physics, but nothing with any realistic usefulness. However, it turns out there are practical applications. For instance, without relativity, backcountry hikers, drivers and pilots – let alone smart bombs – couldn't use global positioning technology.

"If you want to hit a cave in Afghanistan, you need general relativity," Hogan said. "And why is that? It's all based on light traveling through space, and precisely timing the pulses of light."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Washington. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Washington. "Science Close To Viewing The Beginning Of Time, University Of Washington Cosmologist Says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 March 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/03/020322074716.htm>.
University Of Washington. (2002, March 22). Science Close To Viewing The Beginning Of Time, University Of Washington Cosmologist Says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/03/020322074716.htm
University Of Washington. "Science Close To Viewing The Beginning Of Time, University Of Washington Cosmologist Says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/03/020322074716.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) An invisible barrier is keeping dangerous super fast electrons from interfering with our atmosphere, but scientists aren't entirely sure how. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) The International Space Station is now using a proof-of-concept 3D printer to test additive printing in a weightless, isolated environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soyuz Spacecraft Docks With International Space Station: NASA

Soyuz Spacecraft Docks With International Space Station: NASA

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying Italy's first female astronaut safely docks with the International Space Station, according to NASA. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins