My question is: Both of these concepts involve a phase transition and they both started, as far as I know, early in time, so are the above two ideas linked in any way?

My first source for this query is Inflationary Period

The inflationary epoch lasted from 10$^{−36}$ seconds after the Big Bang to sometime between 10$^{−33}$ and 10$^{−32}$seconds. Following the inflationary period, the Universe continues to expand, but at a less rapid rate.

My second source is from Lisa Randall, who states, and I paraphrase her a bit here:

Early on, [After the Big Bang] particles had no mass, but later a phase transition occurred that gave some of the particles mass (i.e. the Higgs field turned on).

My assumptions about these effects are that the inflation idea solves the horizon problem and the flatness problem and that the Higgs Field provides mass, although I am aware that, in a proton for example, most of the mass does not come from the Higgs field, but from the "quark sea", as Randall puts it.

My initial guess is that they are connected in some way, but the probability of this diminishes, imo, if they did not occur simultaneously.

I self study, but I think I am at a level that, if I am lucky enough to receive any answers, I probably won't be able to completely follow them immediately. However, I may be able to understand them after a period of related reading, so being pushed a bit on implicit assumed knowledge is ok by me.

  • $\begingroup$ My suggestion would be to give the inflation crowd about 50 years to prove their idea with actual physical data. :-) $\endgroup$
    – CuriousOne
    Sep 20, 2015 at 1:22
  • $\begingroup$ count_to_10, don't overdo it with the edits! (again) $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Sep 22, 2015 at 7:20
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidZ righto, I had no idea about it before, but I honestly never even gave it a thought, from now I will hand write the post first and then type in the final draft. No excuse, but still learning. I completely forgot there is probably a list a mile long of versions, sorry, I just treated it like a word processor, anyway ok, point taken. $\endgroup$
    – user81619
    Sep 22, 2015 at 8:24

1 Answer 1


I expect you are familiar with the Big Bang model, seen here . It is a mathematical model using mathematical solutions from General Relativity and the Standard Model of particle physics .

The BB developed to describe astronomical observations and the SM developed to describe particle physics observations. The SM describes how particles/nature behaves as the energy available gets larger, and the Big Bang describes the available energy as the time from the origin of the BB increases.

The electroweak symmetry is unbroken until a certain energy in the interactions, as the energy for particle interaction gets lower the Higgs field appears, the particles get masses and nucleation can later start. This happened

Between 10^−12 second and 10^−6 second after the Big Bang

Before the Cosmic Microwave Background data came out, and the horizon problem appeared, the electroweak symmetry breaking was the phase transition appearing in the Big Bang chronology.

The quantization of gravity# hypothesis for the very early universe could model the uniformity of the observed CMB spectrum. The inflationary period was introduced to model the CMB , in order to be consistent with the observation of a uniformity in the universe that could not be explained by thermodynamic arguments at other periods, except immediately after the BB.

The two phase transitions, (end of inflation period, electroweak breaking) are connected by the diminishing of the available energy per particle due to the expansion, but are independent of each other, the electroweak with the Higgs field appearing much later in the chronology of expansion.

# Please note that the quantization of gravity at the moment is an effective theory. There is research going on , no definitive answers.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks very much anna, the bad part of any popular science book is its simplifications, but that makes you think even more sometimes than a textbook example, very much appreciated answer. $\endgroup$
    – user81619
    Sep 20, 2015 at 3:34

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