Ever since the Big Bang, the universe has been growing at a rate proportional to a fractional power of time—or has it been? Could there have been an instant, in the earliest moments of time, when the expansion was far more rapid, producing in this brief instant a radial increase 25 orders of magnitude greater than that which would otherwise have occurred? If such an inflationary period did occur, it could account for some features of our observable universe hitherto unexplained by the standard theory of the Big Bang. These features include the remarkable homogeneity of the universe, its sparse population of magnetic monopoles (if there are any at all) and the pinpoint balance it maintains between an infinitely expanding and an eventually collapsing condition. In short, inflation may be far better news for cosmology than it is for the economy.

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