‘Melbourne researchers rewrite Big Bang theory’ … or not

It's been a little while, but I have written a new article for The Conversation in response to some screaming headlines earlier in the week. Here's the claim from the Sydney Morning Herald.


Heady stuff! The Big Bang, the mass of evidence and interpretation gathered over the last century, is about to be rewritten! This is important stuff (well, to me at least), and headlines everywhere breathlessly trumpeted that we are entering a new era in cosmological understanding.

So, I read the paper which appears in a very reputable, Phys Rev D. Here it is

Huh? I don't see the words cosmology, big bang, rewritten etc anywhere there.

Alas, we have another case of notion that science can only be sold if its significance is overblown. Press releases must challenge the orthodox, shift the paradigm and "rewrite the textbooks". If we went by press-releases, serious researchers would be constantly burning their textbooks and giving Amazon a roaring trade!  This couldn't be further from the truth (I still use Pauli's book on relativity and that was written in 1921)

Anyway, you can read my take on it at The Conversation in ‘Melbourne researchers rewrite Big Bang theory’ … or not. I also suggest that you take a look at the more pithy comments of my ex-student, and now professional cosmologist, Luke Barnes, in his blog-post How to overhype a science press release.

If you know any science journalists, ask them to have a read also.

Added after the initial post:

What is the secret of good comedy? Timing.

This press release came out very recently: Spacetime: A smoother brew than we knew
Or so an intergalactic photo finish would suggest. Physicist Robert Nemiroff of Michigan Technological University reached this heady conclusion after studying the tracings of three photons of differing wavelengths that had been recorded by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope in May 2009. The photons originated about 7 billion light years away from Earth in one of three pulses from a gamma-ray burst and arrived at the orbiting telescope just one millisecond apart, in a virtual tie. Gamma-ray bursts are short-lived bursts of gamma-ray photons, the most energetic form of light. They can originate far across the universe, and astronomers believe many are caused by giant stars collapsing, often billions of years before the Earth was formed. "Gamma-ray bursts can tell us some very interesting things about the universe," Nemiroff said. In this case, those three photons recorded by the Fermi telescope suggest that spacetime may not be not as bubbly as some scientists think.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-08-spacetime-smoother-brew-knew.html#jCp
Or so an intergalactic photo finish would suggest. Physicist Robert Nemiroff of Michigan Technological University reached this heady conclusion after studying the tracings of three photons of differing wavelengths that had been recorded by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope in May 2009. The photons originated about 7 billion light years away from Earth in one of three pulses from a gamma-ray burst and arrived at the orbiting telescope just one millisecond apart, in a virtual tie. Gamma-ray bursts are short-lived bursts of gamma-ray photons, the most energetic form of light. They can originate far across the universe, and astronomers believe many are caused by giant stars collapsing, often billions of years before the Earth was formed. "Gamma-ray bursts can tell us some very interesting things about the universe," Nemiroff said. In this case, those three photons recorded by the Fermi telescope suggest that spacetime may not be not as bubbly as some scientists think.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-08-spacetime-smoother-brew-knew.html#jCp
Or so an intergalactic photo finish would suggest. Physicist Robert Nemiroff of Michigan Technological University reached this heady conclusion after studying the tracings of three photons of differing wavelengths that had been recorded by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope in May 2009. The photons originated about 7 billion light years away from Earth in one of three pulses from a gamma-ray burst and arrived at the orbiting telescope just one millisecond apart, in a virtual tie. Gamma-ray bursts are short-lived bursts of gamma-ray photons, the most energetic form of light. They can originate far across the universe, and astronomers believe many are caused by giant stars collapsing, often billions of years before the Earth was formed. "Gamma-ray bursts can tell us some very interesting things about the universe," Nemiroff said. In this case, those three photons recorded by the Fermi telescope suggest that spacetime may not be not as bubbly as some scientists think.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-08-spacetime-smoother-brew-knew.html#jCp
Or so an intergalactic photo finish would suggest. Physicist Robert Nemiroff of Michigan Technological University reached this heady conclusion after studying the tracings of three photons of differing wavelengths that had been recorded by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope in May 2009. The photons originated about 7 billion light years away from Earth in one of three pulses from a gamma-ray burst and arrived at the orbiting telescope just one millisecond apart, in a virtual tie. Gamma-ray bursts are short-lived bursts of gamma-ray photons, the most energetic form of light. They can originate far across the universe, and astronomers believe many are caused by giant stars collapsing, often billions of years before the Earth was formed. "Gamma-ray bursts can tell us some very interesting things about the universe," Nemiroff said. In this case, those three photons recorded by the Fermi telescope suggest that spacetime may not be not as bubbly as some scientists think.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-08-spacetime-smoother-brew-knew.html#jCp
Or so an intergalactic photo finish would suggest. Physicist Robert Nemiroff of Michigan Technological University reached this heady conclusion after studying the tracings of three photons of differing wavelengths that had been recorded by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope in May 2009. The photons originated about 7 billion light years away from Earth in one of three pulses from a gamma-ray burst and arrived at the orbiting telescope just one millisecond apart, in a virtual tie. Gamma-ray bursts are short-lived bursts of gamma-ray photons, the most energetic form of light. They can originate far across the universe, and astronomers believe many are caused by giant stars collapsing, often billions of years before the Earth was formed. "Gamma-ray bursts can tell us some very interesting things about the universe," Nemiroff said. In this case, those three photons recorded by the Fermi telescope suggest that spacetime may not be not as bubbly as some scientists think.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-08-spacetime-smoother-brew-knew.html#jCp
Or so an intergalactic photo finish would suggest. Physicist Robert Nemiroff of Michigan Technological University reached this heady conclusion after studying the tracings of three photons of differing wavelengths that had been recorded by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope in May 2009. The photons originated about 7 billion light years away from Earth in one of three pulses from a gamma-ray burst and arrived at the orbiting telescope just one millisecond apart, in a virtual tie. Gamma-ray bursts are short-lived bursts of gamma-ray photons, the most energetic form of light. They can originate far across the universe, and astronomers believe many are caused by giant stars collapsing, often billions of years before the Earth was formed. "Gamma-ray bursts can tell us some very interesting things about the universe," Nemiroff said. In this case, those three photons recorded by the Fermi telescope suggest that spacetime may not be not as bubbly as some scientists think.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-08-spacetime-smoother-brew-knew.html#jC

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