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Saturday
Nov272010

The Home of All Things Interesting

Early universe

recreated

in LHC was

superhot liquid

 

 

 

The early universe was an extremely dense and superhot liquid, according to the surprise first findings of the ALICE experimentat the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland.

The experiment to probe the early moments of the universe started up on 7 November, smashing together the nuclei of lead atoms inside the LHC's circular tunnel to produce incredibly dense and hot fireballs of subatomic particles at over 10 trillion °C. The idea behind ALICE is to recreate the exotic, primordial "soup of particles" known as quark-gluon plasma that appeared microseconds after the universe's birth. Gluons and quarks went on to become the constitutive "bricks" of neutrons and protons inside atomic nuclei.

Many models have suggested that the flow of particles from these subatomic fireworks produced in high-energy nuclear collisions should behave like a gas and not a liquid. "These observations keep surprising us," says David Evans of the University of Birmingham, UK, a member of the ALICE team.

A further surprise was the density of subatomic particles created by the smash. One major school of thought suggests there is an upper limit on how many interacting gluons can be packed into a given volume: when this saturation point is reached during a collision, no more new debris particles should therefore be produced.

But to the surprise of the ALICE scientists, the lead ions' mini big bang produced more subatomic particles than expected. "This means that if an upper limit exists, it has not yet been reached at the energies used at LHC," says Evans.

Now our LHC investment is paying off.  Fluid matter fixes many of our Theories about the building blocks of the universe.  String Theory even supports this, but it was dismissed as being impossible.

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