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Hi all, first post, just a mechanical engineer with an interest in theoretical physics. I have a few questions about inflationary cosmology that I was hoping some people could help me with. First what exactly is the bowl that inflationary cosmology talks about, I read Brian Greene's

*Fabric of the Cosmos*, and he referred to the inflaton field falling off of its bowl, releasing energy and forming the universe as inflationary cosmology explains. What determines the shape of this bowl, and most especially, is the inflaton field at its low point, or could it be some strange bowl, with multiple peaks and trough allowing for accelerated and decelerating cycles, and possibly even contracting cycles(I drew an awful portrayal of this on paint, but it gets my idea across, is there any mathematical formula tat determines the bowls shape or is it speculative). How big is the universe, In Greene's book, he said that inflationary cosmology makes the universe so large that if scaled to the size of earth, the entire 13.7 billion light year observable universe would be a grain of sand. Is this a pretty recognized answer, is conservative, or extreme based on estimates? He also said that there was 20 pounds of matter clumped into a nugget that was something like the size of a billionth of a billionth that of an atom, more of a quantum question here, but how could matter fit together so tightly, or is that a special form of matter (perhaps dark matter or dark energy, the book was written like 6 years ago, so perhaps more theories have been formed on the subject.) Also, has the age of our universe taken cosmological inflation into account, light and more importantly Microwave Background Radiation would have to travel past the universes superluminal expansion, as well as the 7 billion years of decelerated expansion as well as the almost 7 billion years of accelerated expansion we have experienced. Also, what is the rate of accelerated expansion, I believe I heard 72km/sec/3.2million light years, is that a trusted answer?