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Making Waves

Gravitational waves are one of the cornerstones of cosmic inflation theory.

But according to Quanta Magazine, analysis showing that the swirl pattern detected by the astronomers fits the profile of radiating space dust rather than gravitational waves.

So where, one might ask, does the new analysis leave the theory of cosmic inflation? That no definitive gravitational wave signal could be seen through the dusty haze does not imply that the waves don't exist, but rather translates into a new upper bound on how strong they could be, given that they have managed to stay under the telescopes' radar. The finding confirms that a few models of inflation are eliminated, but does not disprove the 35-year-old theory itself, which in most models would have generated gravitational waves too gentle for the telescopes to detect.

Some back-peddling called for?

“I have always tried to emphasize that inflation was not the thing at stake here, actually,” said Eva Silverstein, a theoretical physicist at Stanford University

So, it's now a matter of faith rather than science that cosmic inflation exists.

We return now to our studio in Norway...

Cosmic expansion theorists, can you hear me? Your boys took a hell of a beating.