In the beginning was the Big Bang: an unimaginably hot fire almost fourteen billion years ago in which the first elements were forged. The physical theory of the hot nascent universe—the Big Bang—was one of the most consequential developments in twentieth-century science. And yet it leaves many questions unanswered: Why is the universe so big? Why is it so old? What is the origin of structure in the cosmos? In An Infinity of Worlds, physicist Will Kinney explains a more recent theory that may hold the answers to these questions and even explain the ultimate origins of the universe: cosmic inflation, before the primordial fire of the Big Bang.
Kinney argues that cosmic inflation is a transformational idea in cosmology, changing our picture of the basic structure of the cosmos and raising unavoidable questions about what we mean by a scientific theory. He explains that inflation is a remarkable unification of inner space and outer space, in which the physics of the very large (the cosmos) meets the physics of the very small (elementary particles and fields), closing in a full circle at the first moment of time. With quantum uncertainty its fundamental feature, this new picture of cosmic origins introduces the possibility that the origin of the universe was of a quantum nature.
Kinney considers the consequences of eternal cosmic inflation. Can we come to terms with the possibility that our entire observable universe is one of infinitely many, forever hidden from our view?