Scientists have found the "smoking gun" of evidence that the universe was in fact started by the Big Bang.

The evidence in question are gravitational waves: ripples in the background radiation of the universe, which were created during the inflation period after the Big Bang. Gravitational waves were first theorized by Albert Einstein 99 years ago in his General Theory of Relativity, but were never proven until now.

“The primordial gravitational waves have long been thought to be the smoking gun of inflation. It’s as close to a proof of that theory as you are going to get,” says Hiranya Peiris, a cosmologist from University College London

Scientists detected these waves using a telescope in the South Pole called BICEP. Reportedly, the scientists found evidence of the waves three years ago, but took time to intensely analyze their findings to make sure it really was what they hoped. This detection provides the strongest evidence that the universe came from an event such as the Big Bang, which occurred 14 billion years ago. 

“When I got the call,” says Johns Hopkins theorist Marc Kamionkowski, “I had to ask if it was real. To me, this is bigger than the Higgs boson.”

If it survives the scrutiny of the scientific community, many believe this will be an automatic Nobel Prize.

[via Discovery]