Cosmic Inflation for Laymen

You must have seen or heard the stories about the big breakthrough in cosmology that happened last week. It seems that the universe is "only" 14 billion years old so there hasn't been enough time for matter to expand to the current size of the universe, which is 28 billion light years from one end to the other. Now we know, explained the NYT, "that less than a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang, the universe expanded faster than the speed of light. Tiny ripples in the violently expanding energy field eventually grew into the large-scale structures of the universe."

Now that's something to try to wrap your mind around. Personally, I can't conceive of one trillionth of a second. I think it would help if they would just round up to something we can understand, maybe an elapsed time of a billionth of a second or so.


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