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Title: Inflation Basics

The last few years have yielded remarkable discoveries in physics. In particle physics it appears that a fundamental scalar field exists. The Higgs boson is measured to have a mass of about 126 GeV and to have spin zero and positive parity. The Higgs field is the first fundamental scalar to be discovered in physics. The Cosmic Microwave Background, CMB, is known to have a uniform temperature to parts per 105 but has well measured fluctuations which are thought to evolve gravitationally to provide the seeds of the current structure of the Universe. In addition, the Universe appears to contain, at present, an unknown “dark energy” which is presently the majority energy density of the Universe, larger than either matter or radiation. This may, indeed, be a fundamental scalar field like the Higgs. “Big Bang” (BB) cosmology is a very successful “standard model” in cosmology. However, it cannot explain the uniformity of the CMB because the CMB consists of many regions not causally connected in the context of the BB model. In addition, the Universe appears to be spatially flat. However in BB cosmology the present spatial curvature is not stable so that the initial conditions for BB cosmology wouldmore » need to be fantastically fine-tuned in order to successfully predict the presently small value of the observed curvature. These issues for BB cosmology have led to the hypothesis of “inflation” which postulates an unknown scalar field, not presumably the Higgs field or the dark energy, which causes an exponential expansion of the Universe at very early times. This attractive hypothesis can account for the problems in BB cosmology of flatness and causal CMB connectivity. In addition, the quantum fluctuations of this postulated field provide a natural explanation of the CMB fluctuations which are the seeds of the structure of galaxies. Researchers are now searching for gravitational waves imprinted on the CMB. These would be a “smoking gun” for inflation since metrical fluctuations, both scalar and tensor, are also produced in inflationary models. Thus, the time appears to be appropriate for a very basic and simple exposition of the inflationary model written from a particle physics perspective. Only the simplest scalar model will be explored because it is easy to understand and contains all the basic elements of the inflationary model.« less
  1. Fermi National Accelerator Lab. (FNAL), Batavia, IL (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Fermi National Accelerator Lab. (FNAL), Batavia, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), High Energy Physics (HEP) (SC-25)
Country of Publication:
United States