By Clive Cookson

The release on Thursday of a stunning map of the oldest light in the universe will almost certainly be the event of the year for cosmologists.

The European Space Agency’s “cosmic microwave background” image, compiled from Planck satellite observations, will remind people that there are two complementary ways of gathering evidence to help scientists understand the universe at the most fundamental level.

One is to create extreme conditions – ultra-small versions of the Big Bang that created the universe 13.8bn years ago – on Earth, by smashing together subatomic particles at almost the speed of light. That’s how physicists used the Large Hadron Collider at Cern last year to discover the Higgs bosonRead more