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SCIENCE IN THE NEWS DAILY

Hints of Structure Beyond the Visible Universe

from New Scientist

Colossal structures larger than the visible universe - forged during the period of cosmic inflation nearly 14 billion years ago - may be responsible for a strange pattern seen in the big bang's afterglow, says a team of cosmologists. If confirmed, the structures could provide precious information about the universe's earliest moments.

In the first instant after its birth, the universe is thought to have experienced a rapid growth spurt called inflation. During this period, space itself expanded faster than the speed of light.

Inflation solves some cosmological puzzles, such as why relic radiation from the big bang, released when the universe was less than 400,000 years old, is relatively uniform.

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PODCASTS: From Balloons to Space Stations: Studying Cosmic Rays

CREAM Inflating

Cosmic rays have mysterious qualities about them that scientists continue to research in order to better understand their origins and composition. Dr. Eun-Suk Seo, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, and her colleagues, fly enormous balloons as large as a football stadium and a volume of 40-million-cubic feet for extended periods over Antarctica to study particles coming from cosmic rays before they break up in the atmosphere.

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