From an article I read yesterday, I learned terms cosmic inflation and the graceful exit. Surprisingly, or not depending on you interpreted those terms if you didn’t know what they meant, cosmic inflation had nothing to do with finance or economics, and the graceful exit didn’t have anything to do with any kind of exit I could fathom, let alone graceful ones. Rather, cosmic inflation involved cosmology, the study of the origin and evolution of the universe, and graceful exit still didn’t have anything to do with any kind of exit I could fathom.
Cosmic inflation describes the process of the Big Bang where, in a billionth of a billionth of a second, all the matter in the universe we know of, possibly more, expanded more than a billion, billion times in size into what would eventually the universe as we know it. That’d be a quintillion times expansion in a quintillionth of a second, to use proper math terms, involving 18 and 17 zeroes, respectively, if you were counting. Get why they call it the Big Bang now?
After the Big Bang, the universe was… well, let’s stop here for a minute. Why don’t you tell me what you thought the universe was like soon after the Big Bang? Like many, if not most people, you’ve probably heard of the Big Bang, outside of the Big Bang Theory television series, but quite possibly from the series to know what it referenced. Like few, myself included, you probably haven’t stopped to ask, or gone to find out, what the universe was like soon after the Big Bang. If you made some interpolated assumptions with some basic knowledge of astrophysics like I did, you might have thought it was a sea of elementary particles in space, but dense so that as the universe continued to expand as it is still doing today, they could start clumping together to form gas clouds and eventually stars, leaving the punned “space” between them devoid of matter to form space as we know it today. That wouldn’t be a bad guess, but one still off by quite a bit.
After the Big Bang, or cosmic inflation being completed, the universe was an opaque, superhot plasma of scattered particles so dense that not even light could move through it! Wow! That’s some state! Further, it stayed that way for about 380,000 years (0.00038 billion) as it continued to expand before hydrogen atoms could form, then gas clouds, stars, and so on. This tiny period in the universe’s 13.8 billion years of evolution is what’s called the graceful exit. But exit from what? The cosmic inflation? How did the graceful exit “exit” from the cosmic inflation if the universe were still expanding, the trademark property of these two cosmological phases? The way they were described, I’d have called the the cosmic inflation “cosmic hyperinflation”, and the graceful exit “cosmic inflation”, to use those similar metaphors.
But let’s forget the scientific logic in metaphors for now. Metaphors are literary elements, not scientific elements, after all. Let’s forget the logic and go with the literary. If the graceful exit followed cosmic inflation, what was cosmic inflation then? The ungraceful exit? As in clumsy? The disgraceful exit? As in shockingly unacceptable? The modern cosmologist may say either or both, pending how they view cosmic inflation as being troublesome to explaining theoretical physics models of the universe. I am of the same view, albeit literally rather than scientifically since I don’t understand all the problems with the physics and mathematics of cosmic inflation.
To me, if universal expansion equated to “exit”, as named in the graceful exit and metaphorized for cosmic inflation as being some exit not graceful in nature, then those cosmologists could only be playing a subtle joke amongst themselves on the rest of us commoners. They would be talking about cosmic inflation and the graceful exit via metaphors of diarrhea! Yes, diarrhea! That thing we all dread to see, hear, smell, even think about, that starts out with a big and fast, ungraceful and disgraceful exit of matter, which then remain a hot, denser than water fluid as it settles, expands, and makes a slower, more graceful exit by comparison, to wherever it might flow. Ewwwwhhhh!
Might the cosmologists really be playing a disgraceful subtle joke on us unaware commoners, to talk of the beginnings of the universe as metaphorical diarrhea so that they and we would have to engage in such diarrhea speak when we talked about the subject? Possibly! They’re smart, you know! And have wicked senses of humour, though I would have thought it dry rather than wet humour. Of course, they may not be, and I could just be experimenting to see what writing 500 words on something I knew very little about, needing to milk the topic for all its worth, would require. But I really don’t know, so if someone reading this knew the etymology of that graceful exit term, or knew someone who did, I would really appreciate an explanation. Please leave the explanation in the comments… or your alternate theory.
Well, that wasn’t too hard, coming in at 844 words. The 500 words daily limit for posting on most days in 2021 is what I am testing for feasibility as a warm-up exercise for my more serious, daily writings, though some of these warm-up writings will be on pretty serious topics! If you were interested, the article which I referenced for this post is an enlightening British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) article titled What if the Universe has no end? Enjoy!