pockets of energy would grow rapidly during the inflationary period, attract matter through their gravitational effects, and eventually form the seeds of structure in the universe (galaxies, clusters, etc.). Hence, inflation is not just a way of justifying the large-scale smoothness of the cosmos; it also explains the universe’s smaller-scale diversity.


At the same time Linde was developing the new inflationary universe, a young physicist from the University of Pennsylvania, Paul Steinhardt, along with his graduate student Andreas Albrecht, proposed an independent version of the same theory. Like Linde’s version, it avoided the graceful exit problem. Steinhardt and Albrecht joined Guth and Linde in pointing the way for a radical new conception of the early universe.

Currently at Princeton, Steinhardt has moved around quite a bit—from field to field (he’s also a renowned expert in quasicrystals) and from place to place. He has vivid memories of growing up as an “Air Force brat”—relocating from base to base every three years. When he was in fourth grade, his family settled in Miami. Around that time he began to nurture a fledgling fascination for science. “Astronomy was my first interest,” Steinhardt recalled. “Then I dropped it for many years. Many of the first books I read were on astronomy. That was really fascinating to me. But then I got interested in other things. I always liked science in general, as far back as I can remember.”

“I had a telescope, a chemistry set, a biology lab and did physics experiments. Anything that was scientific I was interested in. Doing astronomy in Miami was difficult, because you either had to go where the lights were or where the mosquitoes were. I remember going out to the Everglades, literally running out of the car, setting up the telescope, running back to the car, then putting all kinds of stuff on myself trying to fight the mosquitoes.”

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