We've been talking about the Inflation of the Universe, a theory that states that while the universe was still opaque to light - charged atomic particles absorbed it all at this time - rather than expanding in a constant progression, it suddenly began to expand effectively faster than the speed of light.
The driving force for this was, if you can believe it, energy created by matter and anti matter colliding with each other, this matter being effectively created out of nothing before wiping itself out before it can violate laws of conservation of energy. Eventually the universe encountered a second vacuum that was at a lower energy, and so the expansion slowed to what we know today.
I had no idea how one vacuum could suddenly become one with different properties and felt very stupid for doing so. Luckily, it was pointed out to me that no-one else on the planet does either.
Myself, being a writer with an interest in science rather than a scientist - you don't need to be as intelligent - I preferred to imagine the universe as a big bucket of fluorescent yellow dye. Drop this into a fast flowing stream, and the dye spreads out rapidly, colouring the flow in neon hues as it surfs along the babbling, seething waters representing the vacuum energies our universe rode. But then, an oil slick from a badly run farm stops the flow, stops the expansion, and the dye moves sluggishly along, until eventually, the oil dissipates somewhat, and the dye can flow a little freer again.
It really is a thought provoking course, but one that results in increased tea consumption and chocolate biscuit eating. You need to keep your blood sugar up for this!
Here are some clever people who can draw and talk better than I can write.
All text copyright CreamCrackeredNature 11.11.15