This is far from my area of physics, but it looks like a pretty awesome discovery.
my tldr; (feel free to correct me if you know this better)
The inflationary Big Bang theory predicts that Inflation caused the universe to suddenly become optically transparent. The photons last scattered at that early time are the CMB. The polarization of these photons is not completely explained by standard gravitational lensing, but could be explained by gravity waves caused by the inflation of the early universe.
Today's post is a summary of the BICEP2 results on inflation. It has a lot of images, so it's on the blog. At noon I'll be on the radio talking about the results (http://goo.gl/cnlWlq), so I've been spending much of my time doing background reading. Tomorrow will bring a more traditional post.
Also, I spotted an error in the article. The second is not defined in terms of "the frequency at which electrons in caesium atoms transition between energy levels," but the frequency of the radiation corresponding to the hyperfine transition. So cesium atomic clocks are accurate by definition (OK, not quite because the definition specifies cesium at 0 K.)
It also made the front page of reddit this morning, so I dropped in and answered some questions:
The actually British Medical Journal article is also quite readable if you want more detail:
(1) It is extremely expensive both in dollars and in loss of trust and faith
(2) I isn't effective (the NSA is down to only claiming that their surveillance has only stopped one, nonviolent, plot).
Reigning it in is going to be very hard, because there are many agencies doing these things, and they have shown a willingness to creatively interpret or otherwise bypass restrictions their ability to surveille. Furthermore, they work very hard to keep secret exactly what they do in fact do, making it even harder to review these activities.
My opinion, is that an important route to improve these problems is to cut way back on the amount of money we send to these agencies. I don't think a one or two order of magnitude decrease in funding for the intelligence community over the next ten years would be out of place. That money, spent on public safety or public health initiatives should be able to prevent far more deaths and injuries than the surveillance has, and will force the intelligence community to become more efficient about targeting real bad actors instead of just vacuuming up everything.
via (but I made my own post because I wanted to use a real url instead of a bit.ly one)
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