Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Growth of Inflation

Twenty-five years after Alan Guth turned cosmology on its head, what's the latest story of the universe's first moments?

by Davide Castelvecchi

It was a true Eureka moment if there ever was one. On the night of December 6, 1979, an obscure Stanford Linear Accelerator Center postdoc was up late, sweating over an even more obscure problem about particles called magnetic monopoles. Looking at his calculations the next day, the usually low-key Alan Guth annotated the words "SPECTACULAR REALIZATION" at the top of the page. Guth had discovered cosmic inflation, an idea which some have later called the most important in cosmology since the big bang.

"I never thought that anybody would ever actually measure these things. I thought we were just calculating for the fun of it." - Alan Guth


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