First Results From The BICEP2 CMB Telescope Announced re: Gravitational Waves in the Cosmic Microwave Background

A little over a year ago, I had the extraordinary opportunity to work with scientists John Kovac, Jon Kaufman, Howard Hui, and others at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica (summary of my experience living and working at the south pole) on the BICEP2 and KECK Array Microwave Telescopes. Learning about how the telescopes worked, as well as the science behind what they were doing directly from the scientists involved was a great opportunity, and I was happy to be able to make my small contribution to the project.


“Researchers from the BICEP2 collaboration today announced the first direct evidence for this cosmic inflation. Their data also represent the first images of gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time. These waves have been described as the “first tremors of the Big Bang.” Finally, the data confirm a deep connection between quantum mechanics and general relativity.”

Announcement from NASA JPL:

Astronomers are announcing today that they have acquired the first direct evidence that gravitational waves rippled through our infant universe during an explosive period of growth called inflation. This is the strongest confirmation yet of cosmic inflation theories, which say the universe expanded by 100 trillion trillion times, in less than the blink of an eye.

The findings were made with the help of NASA-developed detector technology on the BICEP2 telescope at the South Pole, in collaboration with the National Science Foundation.

“Operating the latest detectors in ground-based and balloon-borne experiments allows us to mature these technologies for space missions and, in the process, make discoveries about the universe,” said Paul Hertz, NASA’s Astrophysics Division director in Washington.

This morning, they announced their first set of results from Bicep2 at the Harvard Center for Astrophysics:

From Sean Carrol:
Monday morning: here are results! First, the best fit to r, the ratio of gravitational waves to density perturbations:

And a bit of press from around the web:

Snowmobiling to the Dark Sector Laboratory
2012-11-20 Bicep2 - IMG_0813-1600-80

Physicist Jon Kaufman stands on top of the Martin A. Pomerantz Observatory.
2012-11-25 Bicep2 2 - IMG_1163-1600-80

Physicist Jon Kaufman gives me a tour of the BICEP2 Telescope..

Views: Dark Sector Laboratory, South Pole, Antarctica by Google Maps

Pics from working on KECK…

2012-11-27 Keck Array Disassembly - DSC02245-1600-80
2012-11-27 Keck Array Disassembly - IMG_1418-1600-80
2012-11-27 Keck Array Disassembly - DSC02268-1600-80

Appearing on front page of NY Times
Appearing on front page of NY Times


2 responses to “First Results From The BICEP2 CMB Telescope Announced re: Gravitational Waves in the Cosmic Microwave Background”

  1. […] Blog post from Jeffery Donenfeld who worked in the galley with me in ’12-’13 […]

  2. […] Waves in the Cosmic Microwave Background. Jeffrey Donenfeld. Retrieved May 7, 2014, from… [2] Claven, W. (2014, March 17). NASA Technology Views Birth of the Universe. . Retrieved May 7, […]