Echoes in the Dunes

From nothing came a burst of blinding light,

With waves that trickled out to every shore;

For eons, they were hidden out of sight,

Just shimmers of some swift cosmic encore.


But now these ancient signals are revealed,

Structures since built contaminate their yield.

We urge the silence of this barren land:

Reveal to us the future that is planned.

The 3.5-meter Huan Tran Telescope, which is part of the Simons Observatory (Credit: POLARBEAR Collaboration).

This is a Heroic Rispetto, inspired by new research that will look for primordial gravitational waves in the Chilean Atacama Desert.

Gravitational waves are distortions of the space-time curvature; predicted by Einstein’s theory of General Relativity they were first observed in 2015 by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) team. Primordial gravitational waves are thought to have been created during cosmic inflation, a faster-than-light expansion just after the Big Bang.

A new telescope will be built by SISSA, the International School for Advanced Studies,

at the Simons Observatory in the Chilean Atacama Desert. The purpose of this telescope (which will join other telescopes already at the site, such as the Huan Tran Telescope) will be to study and then remove ‘signal contaminants’ from primordial gravitational waves. These contaminants are the emissions from our own galaxy, as well as other astrophysical objects, which interfere with the analysis and study of these waves. By removing these contaminants, scientists, therefore, hope to get a better understanding of what the Universe looked like immediately after the Big Bang, and with it further insight into the future of our Universe.

An audio version of the poem can be heard here.

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