New Planck & BICEP2 Combined Result Coming Out

Last year, the BICEP2 experiment announced – to great fanfare – that they had found evidence of primordial gravitational waves, as would be expected to be left over from inflation, in their measurements of the polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background. It’s being reported that a new joint analysis of BICEP2 and Planck data has been submitted to PRL. The paper, which isn’t out yet, apparently says that in the joint analysis the significance of the BICEP2 result goes away. The new result, which should be more powerful, is consistent with no signal.

This shows the dangers of releasing data – and especially possibly controversial data – before it’s ready. It also shows the dangers of trumpeting results to the media before there’s been time for the scientific community to fully vet a result.