November 28, 2010
Big news from a small place
If this is right, then it is simply huge.
Of course, that is a very big if. Then again, if there is one hypothesis in cosmology that has been proved beyond doubt, it is Haldane’s: that “the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”
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I wouldn't put too much weight on it. Firstly, the paper has yet to be peer reviewed - it's just up on arXiv. Secondly it is a theorist dipping his toes into real messy data, and that's always dodgy. Thirdly, this is something of a post-hoc statistic, and that's another bad sign. Finally, since the claimed effect is associated with foreground sources there are a range of messy real world effects that can come into play. I could suggested several off the top of my head while we were in discussing this in the pub yesterday.
This paper is based on the final dregs of the WMAP mission. Soon, Planck will be able to do this kind of thing much much better, and rest assured that if this paper has any merit, there'll be lots of people who really understand our data looking into it.
Posted by: Dave Clements at Nov 28, 2010 11:07:25 PM
Understood -- I did say it was a very big if! The paper was clearly very speculative (and had a definite "pet theory" feel to it); but an intriguing speculation all the same, at least to a layman like me.
Oh, and I am totally envious of you. Given the amazing science that has already come out of things like Hubble, COBE and WMAP, I can't wait to see what Planck will bring.
Posted by: Ivan at Nov 30, 2010 7:38:49 PM