New Era for Cosmic Inflation

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Cosmological observations will soon distinguish between the standard slow roll inflationary paradigm and some of its recently developed alternatives. Driven by developments in string theory, many new models include features such as non-minimal kinetic terms, leading to large non-gaussianities, making them observationally testable in the CMB. Models of slow roll inflation can also give rise to large non- gaussianities if the initial inflationary state was sufficiently excited, with a shape dependence that will be clearly distinguishable. I will review these different possibilities and discuss how they provide new theoretical challenges in understanding the initial conditions problem and the global structure of the inflationary universe.