Cosmic inflation is, to borrow a phrase from my colleague Joel Achenbach, something that “makes the big bang even bangier.” It’s the idea that the universe exponentially grew in a fraction of a second, rather merely rapidly expanding. The researchers at the South Pole were able to detect gravitational waves (ripples that squeeze space as they travel) and what they deemed the first direct evidence of this inflation occurring billions of years ago.
Andre Linde, a physics professor at Stanford University, is “the founding father of inflation,” according to Chao-Lin Kuo, co-leader of the research team that made the new discovery and an assistant professor of physics at Stanford. Kuo says this in a video that captures the moment Linde hears the news. In the video, released by Stanford and flagged by Jason Kottke, Kuo surprises Linde at his front door with word of the discovery.
There’s something truly wonderful about Linde’s response to hearing something he’s wanted to hear for, as he says, 30 years. Watch his reaction here: