Has the recent discovery of gravitational waves been reduced to dust? Not so fast.See also Woit's blog. I have posted some skepticism about BICEP2 here and here.
The news that ripples in space-time, called gravitational waves, had been spotted stunned the physics community earlier this year. This week, rumours began swirling that the scientists who reported the find have now admitted to making a mistake. The team missed a key detail in its analysis of galactic dust, the rumours suggest, making it more likely that the signal came from a source other than gravitational waves.
But the team's response to this claim is unequivocal: "We've done no such thing," says principal investigator John Kovac at Harvard University. The validity of the discovery won't be known until another group either supports or opposes their finding, which could happen later this year.
In March, the BICEP2 collaboration announced that it had seen an imprint on ancient cosmic light that it says was created by gravitational waves. Those waves are thought to be products of inflation, a period of rapid growth during the first sliver of a second after the big bang. The finding was hailed as a smoking gun for the theory of inflation – and as evidence that theories of a multiverse may be true.
I wonder why the so-called "skeptic" community isn't more skeptical about radical new announcements like the BICEP2. They are always denouncing things like homeopathy, which maybe have some slight placebo effect. I can believe that BICEP2 gives some evidence for inflation, but the talk about quantum gravity waves seems dubious to me. We should know more soon, when more results are reported.