Predictability crisis in early universe cosmology

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 46 (PA):122-133 (2014)
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Inflationary cosmology has been widely accepted due to its successful predictions: for a “generic” initial state, inflation produces a homogeneous, flat, bubble with an appropriate spectrum of density perturbations. However, the discovery that inflation is “generically eternal,” leading to a vast multiverse of inflationary bubbles with different low-energy physics, threatens to undermine this account. There is a “predictability crisis” in eternal inflation, because extracting predictions apparently requires a well-defined measure over the multiverse. This has led to discussions of anthropic predictions based on a measure over the multiverse, and an assumption that we are typical observers. I will give a pessimistic assessment of attempts to make predictions in this sense, emphasizing in particular problems that arise even if a unique measure can be found.

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Chris Smeenk
University of Western Ontario


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