You may remember that about six months ago, scientists got all excited about the potential detection of ripples from the Big Bang -- direct evidence (if it were to be confirmed) for the event known as "cosmic inflation" (see e.g., "A Visit from the Big Bang,"). What happened then was that a team of scientists analyzing data from the BICEP2 telescope at the South Pole (Figure 1) claimed to have detected "B-mode polarization" -- an imprint in the cosmic microwave background that could have been created by gravity waves resulting from cosmic inflation.
Figure 1. The BICEP2 telescope at the South Pole is in the foreground; in the background is the South Pole Telescope. (Credit: Steffen Richter/Associated Press.)