The Cosmology of Electron Scalars
The cosmic microwave background is a sensitive probe of early-Universe physics, and yet fundamental constants at recombination can differ from their present day values due to degeneracies in the standard cosmological model. Such scenarios have been invoked to reconcile discrepant measurements of the present-day expansion rate, but even absent such motivation, they raise the intriguing possibility of yet-undiscovered physics coupled directly to the Standard Model. I will discuss particle theories in which a new scalar field shifts the electron's mass at recombination; viable models are already stringently constrained by measurements of quasar absorption lines, the abundances of light elements, and the universality of free fall. I will show that the remaining parameter space is exactly that which allows not only the primary cosmic microwave background but also low-redshift distances to be consistent with observations. After presenting the results of parameter inference I will discuss additional cosmological and laboratory signatures of the model.