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RE: Inflation
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During the next decade, a delicate measurement of primordial light could reveal convincing evidence for the popular cosmic inflation theory, which proposes that a random, microscopic density fluctuation in the fabric of space and time gave birth to the universe in a hot big bang approximately 13.7 billion years ago.
Among the cosmologists searching for these weak signals will be John Carlstrom, the S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. Carlstrom operates the South Pole Telescope (SPT) with a team of scientists from nine institutions in their search for evidence about the origins and evolution of the universe.
Now on their agenda is putting cosmic inflation theory to its most stringent observational test so far. The test: detecting extremely weak gravity waves, which Einstein's theory of general relativity predicts that cosmic inflation should produce.

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Stephen Hawking, who holds Newton's Lucasian Chair at the University of Cambridge, UK, and his colleague Thomas Hertog of the European Laboratory for Particle Physics at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, are about to publish a paper claiming that the Universe had no unique beginning. Instead, they argue, it emerged out of a profusion of beginnings, the vast majority withered away without leaving any real imprint on the Universe we know today. Only a tiny fraction of them blended to make the current cosmos, Hawking and Hertog claim.
What's fascinating about this theory is that, by extension, it may be transferable to you as an individual observers. By applying a stronger variant of the anthropic principle, one could argue that the cosmos has structured itself around your very own existence.
That, they insist, is the only possible conclusion if we are to take quantum physics seriously.

"Quantum mechanics forbids a single history" - Thomas Hertog,  European Laboratory for Particle Physics at CERN.

The researchers' theory comes in response to a problem raised by 'string theory', one of the best hopes for a theory of everything. String theory permits innumerable different kinds of universe, most of them very different from the one we inhabit. Some physicists suspect that an unknown factor will turn up that rules out most of these universes.
But Hawking and Hertog say that the countless 'alternative worlds' of string theory may actually have existed. We should picture the Universe in the first instants of the Big Bang as a river of all these possibilities; like a projection of billions of movies played on top of one another.

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Cyclic Inflation
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Title: Cyclic Inflation
Authors: Tirthabir Biswas, Stephon Alexander

We present an inflationary model that is geodesically complete and does not suffer from the transplanckian problem. In most inflationary models, massless (conformal) scalar field fluctuations in a deSitter background gives rise to a scale-invariant spectrum. In this work, we realise scale invariant perturbations from thermal fluctuations in (conformal) radiation during a radiation dominated contraction era prior to inflation. As the modes exit the Hubble radius during the contraction phase, scale invariant fluctuations are indeed generated. After many cycles, we enter into a power-law inflationary phase, that stretches the modes produced in the previous contraction phase to scales that we observe today.

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Inflation
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Title: Advances in Inflation in String Theory
Authors: Daniel Baumann, Liam McAllister

We provide a pedagogical overview of inflation in string theory. Our theme is the sensitivity of inflation to Planck-scale physics, which we argue provides both the primary motivation and the central theoretical challenge for the subject. We illustrate these issues through two case studies of inflationary scenarios in string theory: warped D-brane inflation and axion monodromy inflation. Finally, we indicate how future observations can test scenarios of inflation in string theory.

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Title: Flavon Inflation
Authors: S. Antusch (1), S. F. King (2), M. Malinsky (2), L. Velasco-Sevilla (3), I. Zavala (4) ((1) Munich, Max Planck Inst., (2) Southampton U., (3) ICTP, (4) Durham U., IPPP)
(Version v2)

We propose an entirely new class of particle physics models of inflation based on the phase transition associated with the spontaneous breaking of family symmetry responsible for the generation of the effective quark and lepton Yukawa couplings. We show that the Higgs fields responsible for the breaking of family symmetry, called flavons, are natural candidates for the inflaton field in new inflation, or the waterfall fields in hybrid inflation. This opens up a rich vein of possibilities for inflation, all linked to the physics of flavour, with interesting cosmological and phenomenological implications. Out of these, we discuss two examples which realise flavon inflation: a model of new inflation based on the discrete non-Abelian family symmetry group A_{4} or Delta_{27}, and a model of hybrid inflation embedded in an existing flavour model with a continuous SU(3) family symmetry. With the inflation scale and family symmetry breaking scale below the Grand Unification Theory (GUT) scale, these classes of models are free of the monopole (and similar) problems which are often associated with the GUT phase transition.

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Prof Stephen Hawking has come up with a new idea to explain why the Big Bang of creation led to the vast cosmos that we can see today.
Most models of the universe are bottom-up, that is, you start from well-defined initial conditions of the Big Bang and work forward. However, Prof Hertog and Prof Hawking say that we do not and cannot know the initial conditions present at the beginning of the universe. Instead, we only know the final state - the one we are in now.
Their idea is therefore to start with the conditions we observe today - like the fact that at large scales one does not need to adopt quantum lore to explain how the universe (it behaves classically, as scientists say) - and work backwards in time to determine what the initial conditions might have looked like.
In this way, they argue the universe did not have just one unique beginning and history but a multitude of different ones and that it has experienced them all.

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The Hawking-Turok Instanton Theory
The result of Hawking's and Turok's collaboration was the theory that suggested our believed open, inflationary universe formed from miniscule particle called the "instanton."   The instanton was popularized under the nickname of "pea."  An instanton is a sort of theoretical particle developed in physics that is a "twist in matter and space-time."  It got its name from the belief that it lasts for only an instant.  It is much smaller than a pea, though its immense density makes its mass roughly equivalent to that of a pea.  The instanton automatically turns itself into an open, inflationary universe.

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Why was the big bang so very big?
It has been a struggle to explain why the infant universe expanded so rapidly. But now Stephen Hawking at the University of Cambridge, and colleagues, think they are close to perfecting an answer - by treating the early cosmos as a quantum object with a multitude of alternative universes that gradually blend into ours.
The idea that the universe expanded at a blistering rate in the first 10^-34 seconds after the big bang was proposed to explain why regions of the universe separated by vast distances have such a similar background temperature: before inflation occurred, these regions would have been close together with similar properties. But just why the universe inflated in the first place remains a mystery.

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Title: A Hemispherical Power Asymmetry from Inflation
Authors: Adrienne L. Erickcek, Marc Kamionkowski, Sean M. Carroll (Caltech)

Measurements of temperature fluctuations by the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) indicate that the fluctuation amplitude in one half of the sky differs from the amplitude in the other half. We show that such an asymmetry cannot be generated during single-field slow-roll inflation without violating constraints to the homogeneity of the Universe. In contrast, a multi-field inflationary theory, the curvaton model, can produce this power asymmetry without violating the homogeneity constraint. The mechanism requires the introduction of a large-amplitude superhorizon perturbation to the curvaton field, possibly a pre-inflationary remnant or a superhorizon curvaton-web structure. The model makes several predictions, including non-Gaussianity and modifications to the inflationary consistency relation, that will be tested with forthcoming CMB experiments.

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Title: Large Volume Axionic Swiss-Cheese Inflation
Authors: Aalok Misra, Pramod Shukla
(Version v5)

Continuing with the ideas of (section 4 of) [1], after inclusion of perturbative and non-perturbative alpha' corrections to the Kaehler potential and (D1- and D3-) instanton generated superpotential, we show the possibility of slow-roll axionic inflation in the large volume limit of Swiss-Cheese Calabi-Yau orientifold compactifications of type IIB string theory. We also include one- and two-loop corrections to the Kaehler potential but find the same to be subdominant to the (perturbative and non-perturbative) alpha' corrections. The NS-NS axions provide a flat direction for slow-roll inflation to proceed from a saddle point to the nearest dS minimum.

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