Inflation and the Origins of Structure


Guth (Phys. Rev. D 23:347–56, 1981) provided a persuasive rationale for inflationary cosmology based on its ability to solve fine-tuning problems of big bang cosmology. Yet one of the most important consequences of inflation was only widely recognized a few years later: inflation provides a mechanism for generating small departures from uniformity, needed to seed formation of subsequent structures, by “freezing out” vacuum fluctuations to form classical density perturbations. This paper recounts the historical development of this aspect of inflation and puts it in context of the development of ideas on structure formation in relativistic cosmology, before turning to the comparison between inflation and a competing account of structure formation based on topological defects. One aim is to assess in what sense inflation is empirically tested through its account of the formation of structure, in light of persistent debates among cosmologists regarding whether inflation is “falsifiable.”

Smeenk, C. (2018). Inflation and the Origins of Structure. In Beyond Einstein (pp. 205-241). Birkhäuser, New York, NY.