Technology

The Universe Turns 13.77 Billion Years Old

In the scheme of things, man has not been around very long. By most measures, humans are about 200,000 years old. Earth is not terribly old either, at least compared to the universe. Our planet was formed about 4.50 billion years ago. A new scientific study has put the age of the universe at 13.77 billion years.

The calculations were made with the use of the Atacama Cosmology Telescope. This telescope sits on Cerro Toco in the Atacama Desert in the north of Chile. Its location is 17,030 feet above sea level. It is a joint venture among a number of scientific organizations and universities, including Princeton. Completed in 2007, its funding comes from the U.S. National Science Foundation, a U.S. government agency.

Results were published in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. Axios reports the research process was a “measurement by looking at fluctuations in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the glow left behind after the Big Bang formed the universe.”

The scientific paper carries the title “The Atacama Cosmology Telescope: a measurement of the Cosmic Microwave Background power spectra at 98 and 150 GHz.” Authorship is shared by over 40 scientists and experts.

The age of the universe, despite the convincing nature of the new data, remains disputed. One method of measurement is an effort to find the oldest “thing” in the universe and date everything from that point. That is the argument made recently in Scientific American, which puts the universe’s age at 13.80 billion years.

Yet another estimate is determined finding the oldest light from the Bing Bang, aka the start of the universe. That confirms the new Atacama Cosmology Telescope figure.

One important exercise beyond determining the universe’s age is to calculate how far off any figure might be from the actual number. Is the 13.77 billion figure or the 13.80 billion year number off by 40 million years? If so, in the world of determining the age of the universe, that is close enough.