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Physicist Who Put Bang in Cosmos Seeking Other Universes

Center for AstrophysicsEntering the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Theoretical Physics by the front door, one passes more than a dozen well-used blackboards, meeting areas and offices before finding Alan Guth’s.

So when Harvard University astrophysicist John M. Kovac in February wanted to secretly meet with Guth, the originator of a key theory explaining the cosmos, he climbed up a stairway of MIT’s Building 6 and slipped through a back door on the third floor. Kovac, 43, then revealed a discovery that has since made Guth a star theoretical physicist.

“He didn’t want to send rumors around the rumor mill,” Guth, 67, said about the evidence backing his theory. “He was discreet, but he didn’t wear a disguise.”

Guth’s colleagues at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts knew Kovac had been running an experiment to find evidence of the origin of the Big Bang, the birth of the universe 14 billion years ago. Guth is the originator of the inflation theory, which holds that the universe underwent a period of rapid acceleration outward at its very beginning. These ideas, modified by Stanford University physicist Andrei Linde, have led researchers to believe that our universe is one of many.


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