The Inflationary Bubble
The Summer School I’m attending on Inflation and the CMB got under way yesterday morning with a couple of lectures (90 minutes each) by Andrei Linde, one of the pioneers of the theory of cosmic inflation. I enjoyed the first part of the session, but then he went off into the technical details of a specific model for which there seemed previous little in the way of physical motivation or testable consequences. There’s an occupational hazard for people working on inflation which is that they become so absorbed by their calculations that they forget that they’re supposed to be doing science. It sometimes appears that this field has reached a critical density of activity which means that it’s in danger of forming a closed universe completely incapable of communicating with the world outside and perhaps of collapsing in on itself.
The other thing I didn’t like was the evangelism about the multiverse, which is widespread amongst theorists these days. I’ve stated my position about this before so I won’t repeat my objections here. I will, however, lodge an objection to the way Prof. Linde answered a question about whether the multiverse theory was a testable of various fine-tuning problems in cosmology by saying
Ihe multiverse is the only known explanation so in a sense it has already been tested.
I don’t mind particularly if theories are not testable with current technology. New ideas often have to wait a very long time before equipment and techniques are developed to test them, but Linde’s response is rather symptomatic of a frame of mind that does not consider testability important at all. The worst offenders in this regard are certain string theorists who seem to thing string theory is so compelling in its own right that it just has to be the one true description of how the Universe works, even if the framework it provides is unable to make any predictions at all.Follow @telescoper