Once Before Time

Researchers have discovered primordial ripples in the fabric of space-time, going back to about 10-35 seconds—that is, 0.00000000000000000000000000000000001 seconds—after the Big Bang. This would prove the process of “inflation,” long held as the holy grail of cosmology.

Inflation predicts that our baby universe grew very much the way [we grew immediately] after conception: Each of [our] cells doubled roughly daily, causing [our] total number of cells to increase day by day as 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, etc.

Crazy as it sounds, this is exactly what inflation does: it takes a speck of matter with less mass than an apple, smaller than a billionth the size of a proton, and repeatedly doubles its size until it is more massive than our entire observable universe. And whereas [we] doubled in size, once per day, our universe doubled once every hundredth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second.

Then, just as [we] eventually stopped [our] regular doubling and began growing at a more leisurely pace, so did our baby universe, once it had exploded to the size of a grapefruit. But at this point, it was flying apart so rapidly that its expansion continued for another 13.8 billion years, during which it cooled and clustered to form ever more interesting objects: quarks, nuclei, atoms, stars, planets and, ultimately, us.

If inflation did indeed, happen, then it transforms our understanding of our cosmic origins.

We need to stop saying that inflation happened shortly after our Big Bang, because it happened before it, creating it.



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