Searching for the Big Bang

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The Simons Foundation, a community of scholars that encourages intellectual interactions across disciplines and across research centers in the New York City area, have invested $80 million into a groundbreaking experiment to understand how our universe began. The experiment will be conducted in Chile’s Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth, at an elevation of 17,200 feet between 2022-2027. The dry air and elevation provide the telescope array the clearest field of vision on the planet.  Lyman Page calls it, “The largest, most sophisticated ground-based CMB (Cosmic Microwave Background) experiment yet. The project is very important for the advancement of cosmology.”

Forty partner institutions around the world like the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Flatiron Institute want to help fund this experiment. Suzanne Staggs, Princetons’s Henry DeWolf Smyth Professor of Physics, says, “The continuing support to the Simons Observatory from our partner institution are game-changing.” She goes on to say, “The equipment we are building allows us to gather data from half the sky, in many frequencies that have never been done before.”

The objective of this experiment is to search the sky for gravitational waves generated from “the Big Bang”, the beginning of our universe. With new enhanced telescopes and cameras, cosmology as a whole might finally understand what occurred when our universe began. Due to the thin atmosphere in the Andes Mountains and the Atacama Desert, this array of telescopes will detect more faint, cosmic microwave background radiation. This is the next step into figuring out our universe.

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