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Previous Programs

2019 Intelligence in the Physical World

2018 Agency in the Physical World
Awardees; RFP download

2016 Physics of the Observer
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2015 The Physics of What Happens
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2013 Physics of Information
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2010 The Nature of Time
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2008 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
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2006 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
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Hiranya V. Peiris
University College London


Matthew C. Johnson, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

Project Title

Detecting signatures of eternal inflation using WMAP and Planck data

Project Summary

Inflation, a postulated epoch of accelerated expansion in the early universe, has become a principal component of the standard model of cosmology. From a wide variety of initial conditions, inflation produces a nearly homogeneous universe populated by density fluctuations that seed large scale structure. However, inflation is such a good homogenizer that, once unleashed, it can become eternal, ending only inside of spontaneously nucleated bubbles. In this picture, our universe resides inside such a bubble, which could have formed from one of a huge variety of eternally inflating parent vacua. Is it possible to observationally verify the picture of eternal inflation, and determine the properties of the parent vacuum from which our observable universe formed? Surprisingly, the answer may be yes. The formation of our bubble, and the collision between bubbles, could leave characteristic signatures in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). We propose to systematically search for these possible signatures of eternal inflation in data produced by the WMAP and Planck satellites, as well as address some outstanding theoretical questions regarding such signals.

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