The Universe is both lovely and mysterious. Mysteries are enchanting. Once you become enchanted with the desire to solve one, the obsessive attraction will not let you rest. It is like a masked phantom lover who haunts your dreams at midnight, simply to swirl again into your consciousness during the light of day. There is something intriguing hidden in his past. The truly crazy secret is closed in the attic. You cannot rest and soon you see his face, and at long last understand who and what he in fact is. Because we have been seduced, many of us stay wake up well into the wee hours of the morning, trying to solve the myriad mysteries of our own charismatic and elusive phantom lover. We relentlessly chase after him with telescopes, our computers, and our mathematical equations.
On one very dark night in December 1979, a then almost unknown 32-year-old physicist, Alan H. Guth, found that he could not sleep because he was a man obsessed. The night was quiet. It was very late. The mathematical equations were mysterious and enchanting. Guth could not sleep because he was in the grip of a remarkable episode of scientific insight, that in a dazzling flash showed him how to carry away some extremely perplexing problems scientists were having with the Big Hammer theory of the birth of the Universe. At the end of the fantastic, sleepless night, an exhausted Alan Guth scribbled down “spectacular realization, ” in his diary above a statement describing his inspired new theory.
The idea that had bedazzled the young physicist on that winter night, so many years ago, is now called inflation theory. Ever since then, inflation has grew into an extremely important–indeed crucial–concept in cosmology, because it supplies the best explanation so far about how our Universe came into existence. Essentially, the inflationary paradigm is an file format of the Big Hammer model of our Universe’s birth almost 14 thousand years ago. It suggests that the birth of our own Universe was seen as an an exquisitely brief and tremendous turbo charge of expansion.
The Big Hammer theory is the scientifically favored cosmological model explaining the development of the ancient Universe. Big Hammer theory suggests that the Universe was once, very long ago, in an extremely heavy and searing-hot condition, which expanded exponentially–that is, it expanded ever more rapidly equal in porportion to its increasingly growing size. This very rapid expansion caused the Universe to cool-off quickly, resulting in its continuously increasing state. According to the latest observations and measurements, the Universe came into this world in the Big Hammer about 13. 75 thousand years ago, which is therefore considered to be its current age.
The Big Hammer theory explains very well a large number of observed features of the Universe. The central concepts of Big Hammer theory–the extremely hot and heavy state of the ancient Cosmos, the formation of galaxies, the formation of helium, and the expansion itself–are all derived from numerous observations independent of any cosmological model.
Because the distance between clusters of galaxies is increasing today, Big Hammer theory indicates that everything was much, much more detailed together in the past. This concept has been carefully solved all the way back to that remote time when the entire Universe is considered to have been extremely hot and dense–perhaps starting out even smaller than an elementary particle!
However, despite its numerous triumphs, the Big Hammer model is incomplete. A theory like inflation was very badly needed by cosmologists in the 1970s for just two very good reasons. The very first is termed the horizon problem–the mystery concerning why it is that the observable Universe looks the same on opposite sides of the sky (opposite horizons). This is a very enticing mystery because there will never be some time since the birth of our own Universe almost 14 thousand years ago for light, or any other signal, to make the long journey across the Universe and back again. Hence, the problem: how could the contrary horizons possibly know how to appear identical? The second is termed the flatness problem–the mystery concerning why it is that our Cosmos is placed so precariously precisely at the splitting line between endless expansion and eventual re-collapse back to its original hot and heavy state.
Alan Guth is now the Victor Weisskopf Mentor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He developed the theory of inflation when he was very freshman particle physicist at Cornell University in 1979. At the beginning of his career, Guth studied particle physics–not cosmology. However, the young scientist attended two lectures that changed his life–and that led to the development of his “spectacular realization. ” The first lecture was held at Cornell in 1978, and was delivered by Dr. Robert Dicke of Princeton University. Dicke explained in his lecture how the flatness problem indicated that something very important was missing from the Big Hammer theory at that time. The ultimate fate of the Cosmos depended on its density. If the density of the Universe was completely large, it would re-collapse back into its original state as a singularity (a hypothetical point at which matter is much pressurized to infinitesimal volume), and if the true density of matter in the Universe was completely low, then the Universe would increasingly become considerably bigger–and bigger.
The second lecture was delivered in 1979 by Nobel Laureate Dr. Steven Weinberg, of the University of Colorado at Austin. Weinberg’s discussion showed the young Alan Guth how precise data about fibers could be achieved by studying the first few seconds of the Universe’s existence.
Guth’s “spectacular realization”, on that sleepless December night, swept away both of the critical problems scientists were then having with the Big Hammer theory. If, in the beginning, the Universe had indeed expanded exponentially, before it slowed down to its present more stately rate of expansion, there would have been sufficient time for both opposite horizons to know each other. The flatness problem was also fixed by inflation. If inflation had created a Universe considerably larger than the one that we are able to observe–the observable Universe–it would appear to be flat. This is because the rest than it, that’s not observable, is so extremely big–imagine a tiny rectangular the size of an ant on top of a beach ball! The rest of our own enormous, unobservable Universe, is beyond the cosmological horizon–we cannot observe it because the light from those very remote regions have not had the time to reach us since the Big Hammer.
However, the theory of inflation suggests that there may be even more than this.
Some cosmologists speculate that there may be other universes in addition to our own–a Multiverse. Standard inflation theory suggests the existence of a possible Multiverse, and this is sometimes playfully termed Bubble Theory. According to bubble theory, once inflation has begun, it is problematic to turn it off. This enticing, though speculative, concept of the formation of our own Universe from a so-called “bubble” was proposed by Dr. Andrei Linde of Stanford University. According to this idea, there are an infinite number of other universes, each possessing different physical constants. A constant in physics is whatever does not change–such as the speed of light in a vacuum. The bubble universe concept involves the formation of universes from the quantum foam of a “parent universe”. Quantum foam is alternatively called Spacetime foam. The term quantum refers to the smallest amount of a physical being that can exist independently. On very tiny sizes, this foam is a seething, frothing chaos of unusual geometries and shifting dimensions, where Time has no meaning. This Spacetime foam is the result of energy fluctuations. These energy fluctuations may form small bubbles and wormholes. A wormhole is a theoretical being that constructs a tube-like connection between two separate parts of the Universe. If the energy fluctuation is a small one, very tiny bubble universe may be born, experience an exquisitely brief episode of expansion, and then contract, reduce, and fade away from existence. However, if the energy fluctuation is larger than a particular value, a tiny bubble universe may emerge from the parent universe and experience a long-term expansion that permits matter and galaxies to form–similar to those dwelling in our own familiar Universe.
Alan Guth has explained that “It is asserted that essentially all inflationary models lead to (future)-eternal inflation, which signifies that an infinite number of pocket universes are produced. Although the other pocket universes are unobservable, their existence nonetheless has consequences for the way we evaluate possibilities and create consequences from them. The question of whether the Universe had a beginning… (is) not definitively answered. This indicates likely, however, that permanently inflating universes do require a beginning. “
According to this model, those parts of Space that possess a greater rate of inflation would expand faster and ultimately come to dominate Space–despite the natural tendency of inflation to come to an end in other portions. Web template inflation to continue forever.