B-Modes, CMB, Gravitational Waves, Inflation, Oh My!

Last week a group of physicists who go under the name BICEP2 Collaboration made a very important announcement. However, it is very hard to explain why it is so important. In order to do so you need to know what polarization, the Big Bang, CMB, B-modes, Inflation, and gravitational waves are. Luckily Matt Strassler, a theoretical physicist at Harvard, has provided an explanation. I think is is about as short as you can make it and capture all of the complexity of the situation.  

This result has produced a lot of discussion in the physics community. If it is evidence for inflation (See Strassler's post.) that is a major discovery. Now some of that discussion is about whether the inflation interpretation is correct. A post on Medium discusses a new preprint from Dent, Krauss, and Mathur called: Killing the Straw Man: Does BICEP Prove Inflation? That preprint argues that B-modes could have been created after inflation occurred and that more data is needed to determine the right cause of the B-modes. Keep that funding coming.