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Cosmic Inflation — Understanding the Newly Discovered Evidence

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Published on Mar 21, 2014

ORIGINAL NOTE, 21 MARCH 2014: Are you curious about the recently announced discovery that scientists have found evidence for "inflation" in the early universe? I've been getting so many questions about it that I decided to create this narrated slide show in an attempt to provide some context about what the discovery means and why it is important. Starting with a brief explanation of what we mean by an "expanding universe" and how we know we live in one, I'll lead you through an explanation of the Big Bang theory and the idea of inflation, and finally discuss the new discovery. Please note that this is NOT meant to be a detailed explanation of the discovery itself, which you can learn more about from numerous articles in the news; rather, this presentation is designed primarily to provide context for the discovery for people who have little or no background in astronomy. Apologies in advance: I've never tried this before, and you'll notice some glitches in my narration. Hope you will find it useful anyway, and I look forward to reading your comments.

UPDATE 2015: As you've probably heard, the "discovery" discussed in this video has not held up to further scrutiny; the polarization that the researchers detected is now thought more likely to be due to polarization of light by interstellar dust than by events that occurred in the early universe. However, the background discussion about universal expansion, the Big Bang, and the inflation hypothesis all remain valid, so I hope you will still find the video useful. Plus, scientists still hope that we'll someday detect the signal that the video discusses, so the video should also help you understand some of the ongoing research that will continue over coming years,

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