The Simons Foundation, led by mathematician, hedge-fund billionaire, and science donor James Simons, is funding a $40 million telescope to search for signs of gravitational waves physicists believe may hold clues to the beginnings of space and time, Scientific American writes. The Simons Observatory in Chile’s Atacama Desert will be equipped with about 50,000 light-collecting detectors — about 10 times more than at any such facility currently operating.
Scientists are aiming to comb the oldest light in existence — cosmic microwaves released more than 13 billion years ago that may contain imprints of the even older gravitational waves some theorize were released when the universe was born. “None of the current experiments are anywhere close to being able to do that. What this Simons grant allows us to do is make a huge leap forward in making progress,” said Mark Devlin, a University of Pennsylvania cosmologist and spokesman for the observatory project.