19 March 2014
Trying to Make Sense of The Big Bang Discovery? This May Help.
Posted by Dan Satterfield
The discovery that seems to confirm inflation has made word-wide news and for a good reason. It’s likely to result in some Nobel Prizes as well. NATURE made a good video that explains the basics: (see below:)
Want to know more?? Joe Hansen at “It’s OK To be Smart” has a more in-depth summary of why this is such a BIG deal and some links to other posts from some physicists who work in this field. Astrophysicist Ethan Seigel’s is superb and recommended reading. Physics teachers, this is where you send your brightest students who are craving more!
I visited the South Pole Telescope in 2010, and I can tell you it is an amazing machine in a very hostile environment. The South Pole is like another planet, and those working there sometimes have to spend 30 minutes just getting dressed to make the short trip from Amundsen Scott Station to the telescope. The photo above is mine, and was taken from Amundsen Scott Station. In the long polar night (with a temperature of -90°F and winds of hurricane force), that trek can be dangerous and getting lost deadly.
The cold is so intense that your body requires almost double the number calories, and I can tell you the food is good! The telescope is there because the South Pole is at nearly 3,000 meters elevation, and in the middle of one of the driest deserts on Earth. To make infrared images of the cosmos you want cold and dry, and that’s just about the best spot on the planet for it.