Published in "Black Holes and High Energy Astrophysics", Proceedings of the Yamada Conference XLIX on Black Holes and High Energy Astrophysics held on 6-10 April, 1998
Abstract. For two decades the hot big-bang model as been referred to as the standard cosmology - and for good reason. For just as long cosmologists have known that there are fundamental questions that are not answered by the standard cosmology and point to a grander theory. The best candidate for that grander theory is inflation + cold dark matter; it can extend our understanding of the Universe back to 10-32 sec. There is now prima facie evidence that supports the two basic tenets of this new paradigm: flat Universe and scale-invariant spectrum of Gaussian density perturbations. An avalanche of high-quality cosmological observations will soon make this case stronger or will break it. If inflation + cold dark matter is correct, then there are new, fundamental questions to be answered, most notably the nature of the dark energy that seems to account for 60% of the critical density and how inflation fits into a unified theory of the forces and particles. These are exciting times in cosmology!
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