Cosmic Inflation Theory Verified Experimentally

We live in exciting times.  First the discovery of the Higgs Boson, the particle that gives mass (inertia) to all material particles, and now cosmic inflation, the ultimate explanation for the smoothness in mass distribution and microwave background radiation.

In the video above, professor Andrei Linde is informed by a Standford colleague that an experiment at the south pole confirms beyond a shadow of a doubt that the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) shows a miniscule but measurable polarization that can only be explained by gravitational waves acting on the earliest Universe for an extremely short time called the inflationary period.

These waves smoothed out the otherwise necessarily “chunky” form of the nascent Universe, all in a mind-boggling short period of time.  It is estimated that the Universe we live in grew by 50 orders of magnitude during the inflationary period.

Less clear is the assertion that this polarization strongly confirms the idea that the earliest Universe spawned innumerable detached “bubble” universes, each with its own variations on the constants of the Universe as we know it.  These separate universes, along with our Universe, are collectively and speculatively called the “multiverse”.

For a nice visual explanation of cosmic inflation, see here.  For a thorough layman’s explanation of the meaning of this discovery, see here.

Author: Bob Mahoney

Physics teacher

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