Saturday, May 13, 2006
Good Introduction into the First Few Microseconds of the Universe
The most accepted scientific model for how the universe began is the Big Bang theory, where an explosion of energy led to the emergence of the observable universe in which we live. Using particle accelerators, we can reproduce some of the violent and extreme conditions that have not existed since the Big Bang, some 13.7 billion years ago. Scientific American has a very nice article online that describes results of experiments performed at Brookhaven National Laboratory, using the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC). These experiments collide nuclei together at the speed of light and watch what comes from the collisions. At the energies used, a quark-gluon plasma can be formed and studied. Surprisingly, some of the behaviors of this concoction look more like a liquid than a gas. Good stuff! Note...another good source of information for particle physics and the search for properties of the early universe, see the Fermilab site.