The science community was rocked by Harvard researchers last March and there was an apparent discovery of gravitational ripples giving credence to the theory of cosmic inflation. This finding was met with lot of skepticism, apart from enthusiasm. More doubts have been raised by further analysis.
The researchers reported that gravitational waves were detected by BICEP2 from first moments after the big bang. If this was confirmed, a new field of study would be opened up and would be recognized in Nobel Prize.
Gravitational waves are ripples in time and space. The creation of these waves is seen when there is acceleration of object with mass. However, they are very weak and detecting them directly, is extremely difficult. Even for the most cataclysmic and massive events, such as collision of 2 black holes, the effects, observed from Earth, are difficult to detect.
If one is looking for a detectable gravitational wave signal, there can’t be a bigger even than cosmic inflation. As per the theory of inflation, the universe multiplied its size 10 trillion trillion trillion times in the first fractions of a second after big bang. Lots of gravitational waves may have been generated by this inflation. In turn, the properties of light that is passed can be changed subtly by gravitational waves. They can affect polarization of light slightly, in the direction in which the electric fields of light vibrate. The rapid expansion of the universe during inflation would have led to the amplification of the imprint of waves on the early light in the universe.