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I have been reading some cosmology and need to ask the experts at this point some specific points. I must admit I am a little confused.

There are a few models of the universe and may be necessary at this point to see if I can sort out the main differences. In particular James Hartle and Hawking's no boundary quantum state origin of the universe. I believe there may be some minor slight of hand imaginary time element to this to explain away a definite beginning point.

Does this theory compete with the "standard" inflationary model by Allan Guth, the one with the inflaton field and infinite inflation complete with multiverse?

There is also Paul Steinhardt and Neil Turok who are not warming up on inflation, and each propose a cyclic model. Are these cyclic models the same?

Do any of these models overlap the string theorists "big bangs" from colliding large extra dimensions called "Brains"?

Are cosmologists these days heading in any definite direction with some of these complex and difficult for the layman to get a handle on?

P.S. I didn't mean to leave Penrose out of this , he worked with Hawking for some time when Hawking was working on his cosmological theories but I do not know which theory Penrose proposed apart from saying that his lectures appear to shy away from inflationary models proposed by Allan Guth.

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