The Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation and the Dog in the Night

  • R. B. Partridge
Conference paper
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 155)


Recent observational results on both the spectrum and the angular distribution of the cosmic microwave background radiation are reviewed, with special emphasis on null results or upper limits.

“Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

“To the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime.”

“The dog did nothing in the nighttime.”

“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.

“The Silver Blaze”, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

For all of us. perhaps particularly for those of us whose nation is only one quarter as old as the University of Bologna, it is an honor to help celebrate the 900th anniversary of Alma Mater Studiorum. Floreat!

My task in these proceedings is to review the cosmic microwave background, and I will concentrate primarily on null experiments, particularly upper limits on the spectral distortions and the anisotropics in that radiation.

To emphasize the special nature of such measurements, let me begin with the solution of a well-known case of Sherlock Holmes, a few lines of which are quoted above. The crucial clue in the solution of this mystery was the absence of an event; the dog did not bark. It was in effect a null experiment--the value of the incident lay in what did not happen. Holmes correctly deduced that because the dog did not bark, the intruder must have been its owner.


Radio Source Angular Scale Very Large Array Cold Dark Matter Model Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation Temperature 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. B. Partridge
    • 1
  1. 1.Haverford CollegeHaverfordUSA

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