Now it can be told: I will be writing a weekly post for The Daily Beast (making me The Weekly Beast?), on space, astronomy, and such things. My first column is about inflation, and why it’s a big deal:
If you compare any two points on the night sky, their temperature as measured in microwave light is identical to a few millionths of a degree. That light, known as the cosmic microwave background, comes to us from nearly the beginning of the Universe, so it has been traveling for 13.8 billion years. Even with the expansion of the cosmos, two points on opposite sides of the sky were never in the same place, yet they have the same temperature… assuming the current rate of the expansion of the Universe has been roughly the same since the beginning.
But maybe it hasn’t. The cosmic temperature coincidence (which would be a great band name), along with several other annoying aspects of the Universe, led a group of researchers to propose the theory of inflation. [read more…]