The Peter Gruber Cosmology Prize 2004

The 2004 Cosmology Prize of The Peter Gruber Foundation is presented to Professor Alan Guth, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Professor Andrei Linde, Stanford University, for their development of fundamental ideas of cosmic inflation, which has been one of the dominant themes of cosmology for more than two decades.

The original concept of inflation and its many variations, including chaotic inflation, proposed and developed by Guth and Linde, have led to a revolution in our approach to studying cosmology and to understanding the history of the universe.

Andrei Linde and Alan Guth

Inflationary theory describes the very early stages of the evolution of the universe and its structure. A modification of cosmology's Big Bang theory, it holds that all matter in the universe was created during a period of inflation, as the universe expanded at an incredible rate: It doubled in size each 10 to the minus 37 seconds. (Imagine a pea growing to the size of the Milky Way in less time than the blink of an eye).

Models of inflationary cosmology had been considered by others in the 1970s, but in 1981 Alan Guth pulled the ideas together and pointed out the cosmological problems solved by inflation, publishing his work as The Inflationary Universe: A Possible Solution to the Horizon and Flatness Problems .

There were problems with specific details of Guth's model (acknowledged by him also), and later in 1981 at an international conference in Moscow, Russian cosmologist Andrei Linde presented an improved version, called "new inflation". Others added to the refinements, and Linde went on to propose additional versions of inflationary theory, including the chaotic inflationary universe scenario and the theory of eternal chaotic inflation. Inflationary concepts have influenced more of modern cosmology in the past two decades than anything since the hot big bang of the 1960s.

Alan Guth, 57, received his bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in physics from MIT and worked at Princeton, Columbia, Cornell, and Stanford Universities before returning to MIT in 1980. Elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences, he is the author of many technical publications and of the popular general audience book The Inflationary Universe: The Quest for a New Theory of Cosmic Origins.

Born in Moscow in 1948, Andrei Linde received a B.S. from Moscow State University and a Ph.D. from Moscow's Lebedev Physical Institute. Prior to joining the Stanford faculty in 1990, Linde worked at the Lebedev Physical Institute and at CERN, Switzerland. He is also the author of many scholarly papers and has written two books on particle physics and inflationary cosmology.

More information about the Cosmology Prize can be found here .


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