Clement Pryke, University of Minnesota
Monday, October 20, 2014 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
The theory of Cosmic Inflation postulates that our entire observable universe was spawned from a quantum fluctuation in an incredibly brief burst of hyper expansion. Inflation makes several predictions which appear to match features of the actual Universe in which we find ourselves, and, in addition, predicts that a background of gravitational waves will exist which may produce a specific observable feature in the polarization pattern of the Cosmic Microwave Background - the long sought B-mode polarization. Using data from a specialized radio telescope called BICEP2 operating from the South Pole in Antarctica our collaboration recently reported a high significance detection of a B-modes at 150GHz and few degree angular scales. However new data from the Planck space mission suggests that the detected B-mode may be due to an unexpectedly high level of polarized emission from dust grains in our own galaxy. I will describe the experiment and results, and the evolving situation as regards dust.