Friday, March 17, 2006

Inflation -- the good, cosmic kind

A group of physicists says it has direct evidence of how the universe expanded immediately after the big bang.

Physicists announced Thursday that they now have the smoking gun that shows the universe went through extremely rapid expansion in the moments after the big bang, growing from the size of a marble to a volume larger than all of observable space in less than a trillion-trillionth of a second.

Not only does this provide confirmation of current thought, it provides an opportunity to consider some really cool questions. For example, during the expansion the universe grew many, many times faster than the current speed of light. Does that indicate that the universe itself is not subject to the same laws of physics that hold sway *within* the universe? It also refocuses attention on questions like "what's outside the universe?"

If pondering imponderables fascinates you, this provides a lot to chew on.

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