Debut on the BBC and Science Channel! the bicep-planck story

Headlines around the world accompanied the announcement in March 2014 by the BICEP2 team that a specific swirly pattern of cosmic microwave background polarization called the B-mode was discovered on large angular scales. After evaluating and rejecting various systematic effects and Milky Way foreground emissions as the cause, the team, including Professor Barth Netterfield and graduate student Steve Benton of DAA, claimed this was evidence for the influence of the impact of gravity waves generated in the early universe on the CMB.  In September 2014, a Planck satellite paper on dust polarization in the BICEP2 region and many other regions showed the B-mode of polarization from Milky Way dust emission could possibly account for the entire signal. This  involved  Professors Dick Bond and Peter Martin at CITA, CITA visiting PDF Miville Deschenes,  and Netterfield of DAA.

In January 2015, the Planck and BICEP2 groups published a joint paper analyzing the Planck and BICEP2 data together, showing that dusty polarization accounts for at least 50% of the signal, and possibly all. Many experiments are underway or planned to go beyond BICEP2 in the quest for gravity waves, including three with significant CITA involvement, Planck, Spider and Advanced ACTpol. The Balloon-borne Spider,  involving Netterfield and Bond and many grad students, flew at the top of the atmosphere around Antarctica in January 2015 for 16 days and analysis of the high-quality polarization data obtained is underway. The Atacama Cosmology Telescope in Chile, involving CITAzens Bond, Senior RA Mike Nolta, PDFs Amir Hajian and Alex van Engelen, many ex-CITAzens from the past, and Laura Newburg of the Dunlap Institute,  extends the ACT focus on high resolution to search for the lower resolution gravity wave signals. SPT3g, the 3rd generation South Pole Telescope also has the large scale B-mode of polarization as one of its aims, involving Professor Keith Vanderlinde of DI and DAA.


The BBC and Science Channel documentary tells the tale of the BICEP2 detecton, the response from scientists and the media, and the Planck unveiling of the B-mode polarization from dust as a major contaminant. At the end are short clips of the other experiments we are involved in.


Toronto contact: Netterfield, Bond and Martin.

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