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2004 Cosmology Prize

Andrei Linde

Andrei Linde was born into science, in Moscow, on March 2, 1948, the son of two professors of physics at Lomonosov Moscow State University. He completed a first degree at Moscow State in 1971 and a PhD at the Lebedev Physical Institute in 1974. His thesis (with David Kirzhnits) developed a theory of cosmological phase transitions that included the idea that the energy density of a homogeneous scalar field can play the role of the cosmological constant in Einstein's equations.

Early in his work at the Lebedev (where he joined the staff in 1975 and became professor of physics in 1985) he also concluded that energy released during phase transitions, when the three strongest forces begin to become distinct from each other, might be enough to heat up the universe, leading to the hot, dense conditions of a classical Big Bang. These ideas played a crucial role in the formation of the inflationary scenario, as put forward by Alan Guth in 1981. Linde soon recognized that a particular way of ending the inflationary epoch (called a "slow roll") could solve some of the problems of the original model, while preserving most of its important features.

In 1989, Linde joined the theory division at CERN (the Center for European Nuclear Research), and in 1990 he and his wife, physicist Renata Kallosh, moved on to professorships at Stanford University. They have two sons, Dimitri and Alexander, neither of whom has opted for a physics career.

Throughout this period, Linde has been in the forefront of new ideas about the early universe, beginning with chaotic inflation in 1983 and, perhaps most important, his idea of a chaotic, self-reproducing, inflationary universe, published in 1986. In this picture, a given universe repeatedly generates additional ones, potentially with very different properties of matter and the forces it experiences. This way of achieving a multiplicity of universes has profound scientific and philosophical consequences that go beyond cosmology and are the subject of widespread, intense study.

His current work, in collaboration with Kallosh and others, focuses on the challenging problem of finding accelerating model universes within the highly constrained framework of string theory. He is also thinking about the creation of matter after inflation, the nature of dark energy and the fate of the universe.

Linde is the author of more than 200 papers and two books in the areas of particle physics, phase transitions, and cosmology. He has received the 1978 Lomonsov Prize of the USSR Academy of Sciences (for the theory of cosmological phase transitions) and the 2001 Oskar Klein Medal in physics from the University of Stockholm. He also shared the 2002 Dirac Prize and Medal of the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy.

By Virginia Trimble,
Professor of physics and astronomy,
University of California at Irvine and University of Maryland