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Huffpost Science

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The discovery that the universe really did expand at many times the speed of light immediately after the Big Bang should bring physicists slightly closer to their ultimate goal — the long-sought “Theory of Everything.”

On Monday (March 17), researchers announced that they had detected the signature of gravitational waves in the cosmic microwave background, the ancient light that began pervading the universe 380,000 years after the Big Bang.

If it holds up, the landmark find confirms the theory of inflation, which posits that the cosmos exploded from mere quantum fluctuations into something of macroscopic size just a few tiny fractions of a second after its birth. [How Inflation Gave the Universe the Ultimate Kickstart (Infographic)]

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theory of everything

The bottom part of this illustration shows the scale of the universe versus time. Specific events are shown such as the formation of neutral Hydrogen at 380 000 years after the big bang. Prior to this time, the constant interaction between matter (electrons) and light (photons) made the universe opaque. After this time, the photons we now call the CMB started streaming freely.

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