An Infinity of Worlds
Cosmic Inflation and the Beginning of the Universe
256 pp., 5 x 8 in, 42 b&w illus.
- Published: April 5, 2022
- Published: April 5, 2022
What happened before the primordial fire of the Big Bang: a theory about the ultimate origin of the universe.
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?
“In concise, entertaining, and accessible language, An Infinity of Worlds ushers readers to the forefront of cosmology. Will Kinney takes on some of the most controversial issues of current research and treats them with uncommon subtlety and nuance. An excellent read.”
Brian Greene, Professor of Physics and Mathematics, Columbia University; author of The Elegant Universe
“Kinney updates us on the status of physicists' quest to answer one of the biggest questions humans have asked: How did the universe begin? An honest exposition from a true expert.”
Sabine Hossenfelder, physicist and author of Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray
“Thoroughly documenting the latest observations and challenges to the theory of cosmological inflation, Will Kinney's shimmering prose demystifies this most-inscrutable cosmic epoch and illuminates the way for future generations to explore its many remaining mysteries.”
Brian Keating, Chancellor's Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of California, San Diego; author of Losing the Nobel Prize
“This book is a refreshing read on some of the deepest mysteries in cosmology. Its valuable insights are accessible to both lay readers and researchers alike.”
Stephon Alexander, Professor of Theoretical Physics, Brown University; author of Fear of a Black Universe and The Jazz of Physics