COBE Corroborated; February 1993; Scientific American Magazine; by John Horgan; 1 Page(s)
When a team of investigators announced last April that the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite had discovered minute fluctuations in a faint glow of microwaves left over from the big bang, cosmologists were understandably overjoyed. Lacking evidence of inhomogeneity, they would have been hard-pressed to explain how the early universe evolved into its current, rather lumpy condition. Yet their exultation was tinged with anxiety. The signals detected by the COBE team were barely discernible through the ambient noise. What if they were illusory?
Now those fears have been greatly allayed by data from a balloon-borne instrument that soared aloft from New Mexico for 12 hours in 1989. In December participants in the M.I.T./Princeton microwave background experiment finally announced during a workshop at the University of California at Berkeley that they had corroborated COBE's results.