TRYING TO AVOID COSMIC DUST. This article by Willliam Herkewitz on the Popular Mechanics website (link via Instapundit) provides some helpful explanation for laymen about the status of the effort to find information about the 380,000 years just after the Big Bang.

Here is what I understand: Imagine the experimental team’s attempt to aim their telescope at the cosmic microwave background. Herkewitz says: “The problem hinges on the fact that between the Earth-based BICEP telescopes and the cosmic microwave background is not just empty space but actually a whole lot of grit—chiefly, polarized interstellar dust in our own Milky Way Galaxy…. We could be looking at swirls of light polarization actually caused by the dust, not the cosmic microwave background.”

The experimenters tried to avoid the dust by using a dust map “to find a spot in the sky with hardly any dust in the way”. Unfortunately, the dust map they used was flawed.

The experimenters have acknowledged the dust map problem, but they have not withdrawn their paper because they don’t think there could have been enough dust to affect their results.

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