Abstract: I will discuss the detailed process by which slow contraction smooths and flattens the universe using an improved numerical relativity code that accepts initial conditions with non-perturbative deviations from homogeneity and isotropy along two independent spatial directions. Contrary to common descriptions of the early universe, I will show that the geometry first rapidly converges to an inhomogeneous, spatially-curved, and anisotropic ultralocal state in which all spatial gradient contributions to the equations of motion decrease as an exponential in time to negligible values. This is followed by a second stage in which the geometry converges to a homogeneous, spatially flat, and isotropic spacetime. In particular, the decay appears to follow the same history whether the entire spacetime or only parts of it are smoothed by the end of slow contraction.

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