The following paper appeared today in arxiv preprints

Stephon Alexander et al

"Quantum Gravity and Inflation"

http://arxiv.org/hep-th/0309045
The paper could be important. By way of detail, it has

been submitted to Physical Review Series D

Alexander is a member of the SLAC high energy physics group

and Stanford's ITP (Institute for Theoretical Physics)

Previously he was at London's Imperial College and at Brown.

In the past he has published string-and-brane-type research and

also in noncommutative geometry (Shawn Majid is at Imperial College) but in the present article is

working in an area closely related to Martin Bojowald's loop quantum cosmology.

Bojowald also found that loop quantum cosmology generates an inflationary period---as well as eliminating the big bang singularity.

Alexander, Malecki, and Smolin refer to this paper of Bojowald "and the references therein"

Bojowald et al "Cosmological Applications of Loop Quantum Gravity"

http://arxiv.org/gr-qc/0306008
It could be an exciting season in loop quantum gravity as applied to cosmology----or maybe one should say QGR (quantum general relativity) as applied to big bang, inflation etc. We seem to need some general term for quantizations of general relativity (LQG is representative but there are discrete or lattice approaches under active investigation and also there is the spin foam approach.) So maybe one should broaden the category to include a family of related lines of research all aimed at quantizing general relativity. Anyway it is possible for someone like Alexander to get out of strings and branes and get into QGR cosmology. The paper looks important to me, but judge for yourself