The Flip Side of the Universe; September 1998; Scientific American Magazine; by Musser; 1 Page(s)
Late into the night astronomers Angelica de Oliveira-Costa and Max Tegmark worked to analyze their observations of the cosmic microwave background radiation. The next morning the young wife-and-husband team were due to present what their data revealed about the single most important unknown fact in cosmology: the shape of the universe. Their previous results, from a telescope in Saskatoon, Canada, between 1993 and 1995, had suggested that the universe is flat-- the first observations to substantiate a long-held belief among cosmologists. But intrinsic uncertainties in the measurements made it impossible to be sure.
So in 1996 the QMAP team (de Oliveira- Costa, Tegmark and five colleagues from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., and the University of Pennsylvania) flew instruments on a balloon 100,000 feet (30 kilometers) above Texas and New Mexico. When they finally processed the data--the night before their announcement at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory this past May--the situation looked grim. The Saskatoon and the balloon results were completely different.