The imprint of gravitational waves created shortly after the big bang may offer direct evidence for inflation theory, according to a discovery by the BICEP2 experiment at the South Pole and released today. What this means for those alternatives theories to inflation such as string gas cosmology and the ekpyrotic universe? What would happen with these two cases particularly?

  • $\begingroup$ Hawking has gone on record as saying he considers he has won his bet with Neil Turok :-) $\endgroup$ – John Rennie Mar 18 '14 at 9:31
  • $\begingroup$ Is this question motivated by Lubos' blog post? $\endgroup$ – MBN Mar 19 '14 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ Nope, I do not know who Lubo is. It is motivated by the fact that I am studying these two models joint with Matter bounce cosmologies as alternatives to inflation. But I will look for Lubo. Thanks $\endgroup$ – Leonhard Leibniz Mar 19 '14 at 19:36

Alan Guth summed it up nicely (emphasis mine):

Measuring the amplitude, or strength, of the primordial B modes at different angular scales tells you how the inflationary expansion rate changed with time during the period of inflation. Understanding the extent to which it varies is an important clue to determining details of what drove the inflation. Alternative models to inflation, like the ekpyrotic models that Paul Steinhardt and Neil Turok are pushing, predict incredibly small levels of gravitational waves, essentially zero on any measurable scale. This would, at face value, completely rule out those models.


In regards to String Gas Cosmology (SGC), this 2011 paper (arXiv link) by Robert Brandenberger suggests that gravitational wave perturbations would also exist in the SGC model. Thus, I don't believe that this particular non-inflationary model would be ruled out (but I'm not declaring this with any level of certainty).

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