I've had a nagging question about the nature of inflation of the universe for some time, something that to me seems intuitive but which I've never seen asked or answered. I recognize the danger of intuitive thinking in modern physics, but hopefully some of the experts here can help straighten me out. Essentially, my understanding is that if we take two widely separated cosmic entities, such as galaxies, we observe that they are moving away from one another at a speed proportional to their distance; the predominant cosmological theory is that space between them is expanding, thus causing them to fly apart. My question is basically this: how does inflation work on smaller scales? For example, we know that objects within the solar system or atoms in our bodies are held in position relative to one another via gravitational or nuclear forces, respectively. But haven't we concluded that all space expands, and therefore mustn't that also include the space between (or even within) these objects? If the answer is yes, which I take as reasonable, my admittedly naive conclusion (and this is where the intuition comes into play) is that, as it inflates, space must "flow" past pieces of matter that are bound in stationary relative position within a system. I could seemingly explain this away by believing that this phenomenon would more or less have no effect on the matter in small systems, but that doesn't appear to hold up because we can easily see the net effect of inflation over the scale of millions of light years between galaxies. It is my assumption that such a phenomenon couldn't have such a large effect on galactic scales without also having some effect on local scales, however small. So, what I'm seemingly left with is the idea of a phenomenon that constantly attemps to increase the potential energy of any system of matter by exerting a separative force on pieces of matter, but which is overcome on small scales by the interaction of matter via fundamental forces. Does this make any sense, and if so, how might this phenomenon manifest itself? For example, could it account for discrepancies in orbital observations, or unexpected loss of energy in some systems? I suppose that part of my question revolves around the magnitude of inflation--can anyone point me to an equation? Even without this information, it seems to me that this effect would still be non-zero for any spatially separated masses, and thus potentially calculable. Thanks for any insight.