From the Greek meaning 'heavy with wine'
A blog devoted to science and reason
Written after a glass or two of Pinot Noir.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Baby Pictures

A baby picture of the universe!
This is a map of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the leftover radiation of the Big Bang, made by the Planck mission of the European Space Agency.    This light was emitted when the universe was 380,000 years old. 

There's a number of AWESOME results here.

1. The colors represent small fluctuations in the temperature of the radiation, about 1 part in 100,000 or 0.001%.  Since the average temperature is a mere 2.73 K (2.73 degrees above absolute zero), the fluctuations are roughly 0.00003 K.  To put this in perspective, imagine setting your oven to 350ºF and it never varies by more than 0.008ºF.

2. This light was created just 80,000 years after the universe was cool enough for neutral hydrogen atoms to form.

I couldn't find any baby pictures,
but here I am when I'm about
10% of my current age.
3. It provides the best estimate for the age of the universe.  13.82 billion years.

4. The universe is 4.9% normal matter (protons, neutrons, and electrons for the most part.) Dark matter makes up 26.8% and dark energy 68.3%.

5. The universe is amazingly uniform, isotropic in the physicist's lingo. But there is a tiny difference in the size of the fluctuations in one half of the sky as compared to the other half.  Intriguing!

6. This picture represents the universe when it was just 0.00002750 of its present age.  Let's compare this to one of my students who say is 20 years old; this student was only 5 hours at 0.00002750 of 20 years.    

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