According to a conjecture called cosmic inflation, 10-36 seconds after the Big Bang, before many of the fundamental physics forces had even taken hold, the size of the universe mushroomed from next to nothing to the size of a dime: a 1078 size expansion or more in 3×10-36 seconds. That expansion rate is faster than the speed of light.
Cosmic inflation posits an supersizing of eye-watering magnitude in less than the blink of an eye, back when there were no eyes to blink. That’s quite a magical moment.
After that instant of cosmic inflation, the universe proceeded to expand at a much more leisurely pace, not dissimilar to its current expansion rate.
Cosmic inflation violates general relativity by having gravity work in reverse, at a time when there was no matter, only light energy. Gravity is a distortion of spacetime caused by matter’s mass.
After that supposed instant of cosmic inflation, the universe proceeded to expand at a much more leisurely pace, not dissimilar to its current expansion rate.
American cosmologist Alan Guth (1947–) proposed cosmic inflation in 1980, to resolve issues with the way the universe is today: fairly stable, flat, and livable, a probabilistically remote outcome given estimated conditions of the early universe.
Cosmic inflation was a hypothesis shoehorned to fit a few known facts; a conceptual bandage to cover the gap between the universe’s calculated origination date and its current state.
Unaddressed questions strike at cosmic inflation’s core plausibility. What caused it to start? How did it work? What caused it to stop? The conjecture of cosmic inflation is deflated by answering none of those questions.
Cosmic inflationists sought to flesh out their fantasy by finding some evidence for it. In 2014, deep-space observational results came back consistent with CMB (cosmic microwave background radiation) – that the singularity of light energy from which the cosmos emerged had polarization patterns.
These patterns were presumed to be the product of gravitational waves. According to inflation apologists, the wake of these primordial waves caused cosmic inflation by rapidly expanding space.
This surmise ignores two crucial facets of general relativity: 1) that gravity is a product of matter, not light energy; and 2) distortion of spacetime is a distortion of space and time.
Cosmic expansion caused by gravitational turbulence would have proportionately expanded time as well as space. Cosmic inflationists ignore the temporal component to tout their tripe about 4D space blowing up faster than the speed of light.
Certainly the universe expanded rapidly in its earliest phase. But there is no basis to think it did so in violation of relativity, as cosmic inflationists claim. Time stretching out with space produces a swiftly expanding universe, sufficient to account for the universe in its present state without violating basic physics tenets.
There is an underlying assumption which provokes cosmic inflation: that the cosmos began 13.82 billion years ago (bya). This assumption is based solely on extrapolation of the earliest observable light. There is no evidence to suggest that the universe is older, except that its present condition (from the 13.82 bya starting date) can only be explained by defying known physics (e.g., the cosmic inflation hypothesis). Looking at this from the other end of the same telescope, indirect evidence – that the universe started 13.82 bya can only be explained by defying physics – suggests that the cosmos is older than can be empirically established (at this time).
Whatever judder the universe experienced in its earliest moments was itself innate to the nature of cosmic creation. Any polarization patterns found from primordial gravitational waves suggest energetic imprinting as a rebound phenomenon from the previous incarnation; in other words, cyclic cosmology.
Ishi Nobu, Spokes of the Wheel, Book 1: The Science of Existence, Virtual Bookworm (2011).
“Bicep2 2014 I: detection of β-mode polarization at degree angular scales,” arXiv:submit/0934323 (17 March 2014).
Alan H. Guth, “The inflationary universe: a possible solution to the horizon and flatness problems,” Physical Review D 23: 347 (1981).