Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"Dusting off" the deployment blog

I’m headed back South again for the 2014-15 austral summer and am reviving my blog so friends and family can see what I’m up to despite limited telephone time that precludes calls to everyone.  (Communication is through satellite, and the coverage is only a few hours per day).  Last time I went down, we were doing final tests of the BICEP2 telescope before decommissioning it, and upgrading the Keck telescopes.

Back in March of this year, we announced that we had seen something of possible cosmological significance.  If that detection holds up, it teaches us about what happened in our universe in the first trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second, at the highest conceivable temperatures.  It tells us about where we all came from and hints at how all the basic forces may be different aspects of the same thing. It even lets us speculate about the ultimate fate of our universe.  I gave some talks for the general public this summer, one of which you can watch here:

Our result got a lot more attention than we expected (see this article in the NY Times), with many competitors aggressively questioning if all we saw was galactic dust.  I described this with as much swagger as I could manage in the talk at 23:14, although truth be told, our team has felt like we've been running from wolves ever since.

I’m nominally on the ice from Dec1-Feb3.  We aspire to put a new much larger telescope in the field this year and upgrade two cameras to look in another color.  This will help us better understand how much dust is actually in our way.  I hope to cut this long trip shorter, but that's also a lot of work, making this year an “all hands on deck” situation, so we’ll see…

1 comment: