Predictions from Quantum Cosmology

  • Alexander Vilenkin
Part of the Mathematical and Physical Sciences book series (ASIC, volume 476)

Abstract

If the cosmological evolution is followed back in time, we come to the initial singularity where the classical equations of general relativity break down. This led many people to believe that in order to understand what actually happened at the origin of the universe, we should treat the universe quantum-mechanically and describe it by a wave function rather than by a classical spacetime. This quantum approach to cosmology was initiated by DeWitt [1] and Misner [2], and after a somewhat slow start has become very popular in the last decade or so. The picture that has emerged from this line of development [3, 4, 6, 5, 7, 8, 9] is that a small closed universe can spontaneously nucleate out of nothing, where by ‘nothing’ I mean a state with no classical space and time. The cosmological wave function can be used to calculate the probability distribution for the initial configurations of the nucleating universes. Once the universe nucleated, it is expected to go through a period of inflation, which is a rapid (quasi-exponential) expansion driven by the energy of a false vacuum. The vacuum energy is eventually thermalized, inflation ends, and from then on the universe follows the standard hot cosmological scenario. Inflation is a necessary ingredient in this kind of scheme, since it gives the only way to get from the tiny nucleated universe to the large universe we live in today.

Keywords

Wave Function Modulus Space Vacuum Energy Semiclassical Approximation Quantum Cosmology 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander Vilenkin
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Cosmology, Department of Physics and AstronomyTufts UniversityMedfordUSA

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