Some physics history from Andrei Linde

At the Edge website is a memoir-essay by the physicist Andrei Linde: “A balloon producing balloons: a big fractal”.

At one point, Linde was pressed unexpectedly into being a Russian translator for a lecture by Stephen Hawking, leading to a priceless exchange:

For about a half an hour we were talking this way and explained to everyone why it was impossible to improve Alan Guth's inflationary model, what are the problems with it. And then Stephen said something, and his students said: "Andrei Linde recently proposed a way to overcome this difficulty. I didn't expect it, and I happily translated it into Russian. And then Stephen said: "But this suggestion is wrong." And I translated it For half an hour I was translating what Stephen said, explaining in great detail why what I'm doing is totally wrong. And it was all happening in front of the best physicists in Moscow, and my future in physics depended on them. I've never been in a more embarrassing situation in my life.

Linde gives a very readable account of how he experienced the inflation of the inflationary model for cosmic origins, and its intellectual history during the 80’s and 90’s.