Inflation and the False Vacuum

Part of the SpringerBriefs in Physics book series (SpringerBriefs in Physics)


Inflation is the idea that the very early universe may have been dominated by vacuum energy, giving rise to a brief period of vastly accelerated expansion. Its roots go back to the late 1960s and the quest for singularity avoidance in the wake of the discovery of the cosmic microwave background. A tentative connection to what would later be called the horizon problem within relativistic cosmology also goes back to this period. But inflation did not gain wide recognition until high-energy particle physicists became involved. Stimulated by the successes of electroweak unification, they began to explore the implications of spontaneous symmetry breaking for cosmology, with the attendant possibility of a false vacuum state. These models implied a universe dominated by massive relic particles from the early universe. This “monopole problem” was the trigger for the explosion of interest in inflation in the 1980s. A possible explanation for flatness was noted at about the same time. Only later was it appreciated that the most compelling argument for something like inflation is its potential to link the observed large-scale structure in the present-day universe to quantum fluctuations in the earliest moments after the big bang.


Inflation Vacuum energy Spontaneous symmetry breaking Cosmological constant Large-scale structure 


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© The Author(s) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Science StudiesAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Physics, Astronomy and GeosciencesTowson UniversityTowsonUSA

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