Watch: Big-bang physicist learns he got it right in emotional video

In the video above, you can watch as a physicist learns that his theory of how the universe began was right after all — 30 years after he first proposed it.

His reaction moves from disbelief, to joy, to gratefulness, and I promise it will make you smile.


The video comes to us courtesy of Stanford University's publicity department, which had the foresight to follow assistant professor of physics Chao-Lin Kuo as he delivered the good news to another physics professor, Andrei Linde, who first proposed his theory of "new inflation" in the early 1980s.

Kuo is part of a team of researchers that used a radio telescope at the South Pole to find the first direct evidence to support Linde's theory. The evidence came from a specific pattern of waves in the faint glow left over from the Big Bang.

Kuo and his colleagues shared their discovery with the world in a news conference  Monday morning, but a few days earlier, Kuo shared the news with Linde directly.

In the video, Kuo knocks on Linde's door, which is opened by the older physicist and his wife, smiling.

"So I have a surprise for you," Kuo says, and then he gets right to the point. "It's 5 sigma, r at point two."

Linde and his wife's faces fall.

It may sound like gibberish to you, but what Kuo is telling them in science speak is that there is only a 1 in 3.5-million chance that the discovery was a fluke (5 sigma), and that the signal they found, which they expected to be r at less than .11 was actually r at .2 — much stronger than they expected.

Linde's wife, Renapa Kallosh, who is also physicist, breathes "The discovery?" and then moves to hug Kuo, but Linde needs to hear the news over and over again.

"Five sigma, clear as day, r at point two," says Kuo.

Later, as Kuo opens a bottle of wine, Linde says that when the doorbell rang Kallosh said it was probably a delivery, and asked if he had ordered anything.

"Yeah, I ordered it 30 years ago," he says. "It finally arrived."

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