New Research Challenges What We Thought We Knew About the Big Bang


Physicists have discovered that gravity and quantum effects disrupt the symmetry of the electromagnetic field, making symmetry impossible in our universe. If true, the work will add insight to the study of the origins of the universe.


New research from physicists at Louisiana State University (LSU) and Universidad de Valencia, Spain, may offer the answer to questions left open by classical theories of electromagnetism. If this new research solves part of this mystery, it may also provide a window into the origins of the universe.

Waves of all kinds, including light, are made of magnetic and electric fields. For around 150 years, scientists have accepted the idea that magnetism and electricity are really just two sides of the same coin. When Michael Faraday spun magnets, generating electricity — and used electrical currents to make magnets spin — the connection seemed obvious. James Clerk Maxwell took the experiments of Faraday and turned them into the classical theory of electromagnetism, which provided a unified framework for studying optics, magnetism, and electricity.

Via Pixabay

The mystery of electromagnetism lies in the absence of magnetic charges. Maxwell’s theory, referred to as the electric-magnetic duality, rests on a concept of symmetry and assumes that magnets having charges. However, no isolated magnetic charges have ever been observed in nature, and while something that behaves in a similar way has been simulated in laboratories, this is scarcely the same as actual empirical evidence. If magnetic charges don’t exist, then Maxwell’s theory of symmetry is impossible.

Now, LSU’s Ivan Agullo and his team of researchers think they know why these isolated magnetic charges, also called magnetic monopoles, have never been found: gravity and quantum effects disrupt the symmetry of the electromagnetic field.

 “Gravity spoils the symmetry regardless of whether magnetic monopoles exist or not,” Agullo said in a press release from LSU. “This is shocking. The bottom line is that the symmetry cannot exist in our universe at the fundamental level because gravity is everywhere.”


This new research challenges many basic scientific premises that may affect other research, including the study of the origins of the universe. Satellites collect data from the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the radiation emitted from the Big Bang and which holds valuable clues about the history of the universe.

The Evolution of Human Understanding of the Universe [INFOGRAPHIC]

“By measuring the CMB, we get precise information on how the Big Bang happened,” Agullo said in the press release.

Until now, scientists analyzing CMB data have assumed that the gravitational field in the universe does not affect the polarization of photons in the CMB. However, this is only true if electromagnetic symmetry exists. If it doesn’t, cosmic evolution may be changing the polarization of the CMB constantly.

Should this research be accurate, scientists will need to analyze CMB data in new ways. The team’s focus for future work will be the identification of just how much the polarization may be changing, and how scientists can adjust their analyses to cope with this new asymmetrical reality.

Dapagliflozin superior to placebo for patients with type 2 diabetes, CVD

In type 2 diabetes patients with preexisting cardiovascular disease, the use of dapagliflozin is superior to placebo in decreasing HbA1c, body weight and systolic blood pressure without negatively affecting cardiovascular safety, according to recent study findings.

In the multicenter, randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study, William T. Cefalu, MD, of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and colleagues evaluated 922 patients with type 2 diabetes, known preexisting CVD and a history of treated hypertension to determine the safety and efficacy of dapagliflozin compared with placebo.

Participants were assigned to receive either once-daily 10-mg dapagliflozin (n = 455) or placebo (n = 459) for 24 weeks. A 28-week extension period followed. Participants who were being treated with insulin were placed on a 25% decreased dose at randomization. Age (< 65 years; ≥ 65 years), insulin use and time from most recent qualifying CV event were used to stratify patients. More than half of participants in both groups were older than 65 years.

Primary endpoints included absolute decrease from baseline HbA1c level and proportion of patients who achieved combined HbA1c reduction of 0.5% or more, body weight of 3% or more and systolic BP of 3 mm Hg or more.

Compared with placebo, which yielded a slight increase in HbA1c at 24 weeks (0.8%) from baseline, dapagliflozin significantly decreased HbA1c levels (-0.38%). More participants in the dapagliflozin group met the three-item endpoint (11.7%) compared with placebo (0.9%) and the changes persisted over 52 weeks.

Similar rates of serious adverse events, hypoglycemia, urinary tract infection and cardiac anomalies were found among both groups whereas hypotension/hypovolemia, genital infection and renal failure were more prevalent in the dapagliflozin group.

“Given the paucity of available data, the current study assists clinicians when determining appropriate regimens for patients with type 2 diabetes who are at high risk for CVD,” the researchers wrote. “As such, dapagliflozin, when added to usual care in a population with a high CVD risk, was superior to placebo in reducing HbA1c levels, as well as demonstrating combined efficacy for the lowering of HbA1c levels, [body weight] reduction and [systolic] BP reduction, in a year-long study. These data indicate that the safety profile of dapagliflozin makes it appropriate for use in a population of patients with advanced type 2 diabetes, CVD, and hypertension, and, as such, provides significantly new clinical information.” – by Jennifer Byrne