Today researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center For Astrophysics announced the first data that shows the inflation theory of the Big Bang is correct.
That theory dates back to 1978, and was first developed by Alan Guth. The New York Times recounts: “One night late in 1979, an itinerant young physicist named Alan Guth, with a new son and a year’s appointment at Stanford, stayed up late with his notebook and equations, venturing far beyond the world of known physics.”
SLAC labs tweeted this notebook page, which seems to be Guth’s notebook from the time. Here’s the tweet:
As the notebook says, Guth was trying to explain why there is no trace of exotic particles — magnetic monopoles to be exact — we should see from the Big Bang.
These magnetic monopoles are absent from the universe as we know it, and Guth suggested that supercooling of the universe could be why. But when he introduced this supercooling into the calculations for the big bang and expansion of the universe, he found something incredible — inflation.
In fact, supercooling does “affect the expansion rate of the universe enormously,” Guth told the MIT Tech Review, “sending the universe into this exponential expansion, which is what we now call inflation.”
The notebook, written when Guth was a postdoc at Cornell in 1978, reads, in part:
This kind of supercooling can explain why the universe today is so incredibly flat _ and therefore result the fine-tuning paradox pointed out by Bob Dicke in the Einstein dry lectures.
A developing theory
At Stanford University in 1981, Guth formally proposed the idea of cosmic inflation — that the nascent universe passed through a phase of exponential expansion.
But, he knew there were problems with it. “He wrote a paper saying, I think this is a very important idea, but I can show it doesn’t work in the form I am proposing,'” Michael Turner, a University of Chicago astrophysicist, told MIT’s Technology Review. “He invited other scientists to think about inflation and improve it.”
His initial idea was supplemented by the theories of many others, including the idea of “chaotic inflation” introduced in 1983 by Andre Linde, also of Stanford University.Today, the first experimental evidence of inflation was announced, the beginning of the confirmation of Guth’s theory.
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