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…living in a place that makes doing cosmology hard.

Let’s backtrack a little. Unless you’ve been living under a particularly thick and insulating rock you’ll know that in recent months the world of experimental cosmology (what would have previously been called observational cosmology, or just plain old astronomy) has been on tenterhooks waiting to see if the BICEP2 measurement of polarized cosmic microwave background radiation is truly a signature of an inflationary universe, or – to put it bluntly – dust.

The tale has been told well in many places, but the key criticism of the BICEP2 data is that the mucky old galaxy – the Milky Way – could be entirely responsible for the signal that’s being seen. It’s a galactic foreground, part of a veil between us and the cosmos. Now, with the publication of results from the Planck satellite, it seems increasingly likely that this is the case (although the lid is by no means sealed).

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