New photos from the European Space Agency’s Planck surveyor of the "oldest light" in the universe could significantly change our understanding of the origins of the universe. Brian Greene, theoretical physicist and string theorist, explains what scientists hope to learn from these images.
According to Greene, these scientists set out looking for something very specific. "They were looking for radiation, for heat, leftover from the big bang itself. It's called the cosmic microwave background radiation and they now have taken the most precise measurements ever of the events that happened about 13.8 billion years ago. So it's an amazing achievement that that these astrophysicists, these scientists have been able to reach."
Green explains the importance of these findings to explaining to current theories, saying, "You look around the universe and you see that there are planets and stars and galaxies and there all these clumps of matter…well, there had to be littler clumps early on that were the seeds of all the structure that we see today.
"We believe that the seeds came from…little quantum fluctuations in the earliest moments of the universe that got imprinted on the cosmos and over time they grew into the structures that we now see…they’ve been measuring these imprints in the early universe…to see if our theoretical explanation of what happened way back then can explain why there are galaxies today."
Because of the precise way that quantum imprints were stamped onto our galaxy in those early years, Greene theorizes that the manifestations may vary greatly. "If there are other universes, they could be radically different from the one we're familiar with."