Cosmological trans-Planckian conjectures are not effective

C. P. Burgess, S. P. De Alwis, F. Quevedo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is remarkable that the primordial fluctuations as revealed by the CMB coincide with what quantum fluctuations would look like if they were stretched across the sky by accelerated cosmic expansion. It has been observed that this same stretching also brings very small - even trans-Planckian - length scales up to observable sizes if extrapolated far enough into the past. This potentially jeopardizes later descriptions of late-time cosmology by introducing uncontrolled trans-Planckian theoretical errors into all calculations. Recent speculations, such as the Trans-Planckian Censorship Conjecture (TCC), have been developed to avoid this problem. We revisit old arguments why the consistency of (and control over) the Effective Field Theory (EFT) governing late-time cosmology is not necessarily threatened by the descent of modes due to universal expansion, even if EFT methods may break down at much earlier times. Failure of EFT methods only poses a problem if late-time predictions rely on non-adiabatic behaviour at these early times (such as is often true for bouncing cosmologies, for example). We illustrate our arguments using simple non-gravitational examples such as slowly rolling scalar fields and the spacing between Landau levels for charged particles in slowly varying magnetic fields, for which similar issues arise and are easier to understand. We comment on issues associated with UV completions. Our arguments need not invalidate speculative ideas like the TCC but suggest they are not required by the present evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number037
JournalJournal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • inflation
  • particle physics - cosmology connection
  • transplanckian physics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


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