Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Physicists create a 'perfect' way to study the Big Bang
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council via PhysOrg ^ | 21 July 2005 | Staff

Posted on 07/22/2005 4:15:47 AM PDT by PatrickHenry

Physicists have created the state of matter thought to have filled the Universe just a few microseconds after the big bang and found it to be different from what they were expecting. Instead of a gas, it is more like a liquid. Understanding why it is a liquid should take physicists a step closer to explaining the earliest moments of our Universe.

Not just any old liquid, either. Its collective movement is rather like the way a school of fish swims 'as one' and is a sign that the fluid possesses an extremely low viscosity, making it what physicists call a perfect fluid. In fact, tentative calculations suggest its extraordinarily low viscosity makes it the most perfect fluid ever created.

Researchers had confidently believed it would be something like 'steam', consisting of free quarks and gluons. "No one predicted that it would be a liquid," said Professor John Nelson from the University of Birmingham, who heads the British involvement in the STAR Collaboration, a multinational experiment. "This aspect was totally unexpected," said Professor Nelson, "and will lead to new scientific research regarding the properties of matter at extremes of temperature and density, previously inaccessible in a laboratory."

The Birmingham contingent is funded entirely by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The new state of matter was forged in the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), situated at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, Long Island, New York. By colliding the central cores of gold atoms together, head-on at almost the speed of light, the researchers created a fleeting, microscopic version of the Universe a few microseconds after the Big Bang. This included achieving a temperature of several million million degrees (about 150,000 times the temperature at the centre of the Sun). They then detected the rush of particles that this miniature 'big bang' created. That was when things started to take an unexpected turn.

Instead of the 'every-particle-for-itself, free-for-all' that is expected from a gas, the researchers saw evidence of collective movement as the hot matter, formed at RHIC, flowed out of the collision site. This indicated stronger interactions between the particles than expected, leading to the belief that the quark-gluon plasma is behaving like a liquid.

This type of experiment furthers our understanding of what happened in the instants immediately following the Big Bang, leading to a better understanding of the earliest moments of the Universe. However, the unexpected nature of this new state of matter is leaving physicists wondering if the current theoretical models can support these surprising new experimental results.

Background

The early Universe is thought to have been a place of extraordinarily high temperatures and energies. Matter as we know it could not exist under those conditions. Rather like an ice cube placed in a hot oven, atoms dissolve into a new state of matter consisting of minuscule particles, the most significant of which are known as quarks and gluons.

For over twenty years, physicists have been searching for the quark-gluon plasma, because of the insights it can give into the earliest moments of the Universe and the structure of matter. However, this latest development is much more unusual than anyone expected.

There is a suggestion that certain versions of string theory may be able to explain the 'liquid' behaviour of the quark-gluon plasma. Professor Nelson expects that progress will be made during the forthcoming Quark Matter 2005 conference in Budapest in August. "Although these findings did not fit with expectations, the theories are slowly coming into line. Hearing the theoretical developments is going to be the high point of the conference," said Professor Nelson.

EPSRC (under its previous name of SERC) was the first British research council to fund heavy ion collision experiments. Starting in the mid 1980s, they made it possible for British nuclear physicists from Birmingham to participate in such experiments at CERN (the European Centre for Nuclear Research).

Professor John Nelson heads an EPSRC-funded research group of five staff members and four PhD students at the University of Birmingham, UK. Together they contribute to the STAR experiment running on RHIC.

STAR is one of four particle detection experiments running at RHIC. The name is an acronym for Solenoidal Tracker At RHIC. The experimental apparatus wraps itself around the collision site and tracks the particles given off, providing the information necessary for physicists to determine the nature of each particle produced in the collision.

STAR is one of four complementary experiments running at RHIC. The other three are BRAHMS, PHENIX and PHOBOS. All four experiments corroborate the nature of the quark-gluon plasma found at RHIC.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: bigbang; cosmology; crevolist; physics; science; stringtheory
Bold and underlining added by me.
1 posted on 07/22/2005 4:15:49 AM PDT by PatrickHenry
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: VadeRetro; Junior; longshadow; RadioAstronomer; Doctor Stochastic; js1138; Shryke; RightWhale; ...
SciencePing
An elite subset of the Evolution list.
See the list's description at my freeper homepage.
Then FReepmail to be added or dropped.

2 posted on 07/22/2005 4:16:56 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas. The List-O-Links is at my homepage.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: PatrickHenry

Hmm.. Sounds more like a Big Burble!


3 posted on 07/22/2005 4:23:01 AM PDT by AntiGuv ()
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: PatrickHenry
"..the most perfect fluid ever created."

I beg to differ..


4 posted on 07/22/2005 4:24:05 AM PDT by Jaxter ("Vivit Post Funera Virtus")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Jaxter

5 posted on 07/22/2005 4:28:51 AM PDT by PBRSTREETGANG
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: PatrickHenry

There was speculation that while creating the quark gluon plasma a byproduct of the process would be the creation of a small black hole.


6 posted on 07/22/2005 4:29:58 AM PDT by brivette
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: PatrickHenry

They're going to study the big bang? I don't know if i can perform with scientists watching me an the ol' lady!


7 posted on 07/22/2005 4:30:44 AM PDT by 1FASTGLOCK45 (FreeRepublic: More fun than watching Dem'Rats drown like Turkeys in the rain! ! !)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: PatrickHenry

I didn't understand why colliding gold atoms would create a big bang like situation.


8 posted on 07/22/2005 4:32:27 AM PDT by razoroccam (Then in the name of Allah, they will let loose the Germs of War (http://www.booksurge.com))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: PatrickHenry

In the Beginning G-D CREATED the heavens and the Earth... Gen 1:1A, any questions? CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW!!


9 posted on 07/22/2005 4:38:01 AM PDT by zzen01 (so there!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: razoroccam

They use Gold partially because it doesn't react with anything - they know that there will no peturbations from Gold Oxide contaminants for instance.

They don't use a whole lot of Gold, if you're worried :0)


10 posted on 07/22/2005 4:39:46 AM PDT by agere_contra
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: zzen01
"In the Beginning G-D CREATED the heavens and the Earth... "

True. But Genesis doesn't say how He created the Heavens and the Earth.
11 posted on 07/22/2005 4:43:00 AM PDT by LIConFem (A fronte praecipitium, a tergo lupi.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: razoroccam

Sorry only partially answered your question: Gold is used as a collision target somewhat the reason I gave, but as to why they would expect a BB situation - well they carry out High Energy collisions for any and every experiment in Particle Physics. The actual metals they use in targets is not that important (as long as you avoid contamination).


12 posted on 07/22/2005 4:43:25 AM PDT by agere_contra
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: PatrickHenry

certain versions of string theory
-------
If you get enough versions, at some time one will fit. The jury is still out on string theory. It is sort of like long term weather and stock market programs. They need a little tweak, after the fact, to explain what happened. Unfortunately they do not consistently explain what will happen, but there are so many around that occasionally one of them does, short term.

Another problem is the leap of faith that because the experiment yielded certain results, they can be extrapolated into what happened just after the big bang. Maybe yes, maybe no.

Good observations, however, and interesting, but I would not leap that far right now.


13 posted on 07/22/2005 4:43:47 AM PDT by KeyWest
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: agere_contra

Thanks for your reply. I do know that gold is inert - but how does making inert substances collide at super high speeds simulate the big bang? What we know of the big bang arises from observations after the event. We don't know what conditions led to that event arising, do we? Therefore, isn't this experiment artificial, in more ways than one?


14 posted on 07/22/2005 4:46:41 AM PDT by razoroccam (Then in the name of Allah, they will let loose the Germs of War (http://www.booksurge.com))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Jaxter

No, its a pale dry ale!


15 posted on 07/22/2005 4:51:20 AM PDT by ncountylee (Dead terrorists smell like victory)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: PatrickHenry

Here are additional info on the quark-gluon plasma
http://www.bnl.gov/rhic/QGP.htm and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quark-gluon_plasma


16 posted on 07/22/2005 4:57:22 AM PDT by AdmSmith
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: razoroccam
but how does making inert substances collide at super high speeds simulate the big bang?

I'll venture a guess: at the pressures and temperatures that are achieved after impact, one no longer has "gold", but merely, protons, neutrons, electrons, other elementary particles, light, energy, etc.

17 posted on 07/22/2005 4:57:50 AM PDT by XEHRpa
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: PatrickHenry

Thanks for the ping!


18 posted on 07/22/2005 5:52:57 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: razoroccam

"Thanks for your reply. I do know that gold is inert - but how does making inert substances collide at super high speeds simulate the big bang? What we know of the big bang arises from observations after the event. We don't know what conditions led to that event arising, do we? Therefore, isn't this experiment artificial, in more ways than one?"

They use gold simply because it is a relatively heavy nucleus (therefore it has more kinetic energy at close to "c") and is condusive to being easily accelerated to those unbeleivable velocites for technical reasons not all of which are known to me.

It doesn't matter so much that it is gold, but that it is matter in general, being collided with other matter with very high energy.

It does relate to the big bang in a way. We can see plainly now that the universe is expanding, that everything in the universe, on a large scale, is moving apart from everything else at ever increasing velocity. Therefore we can extrapolate back that, since everything is moving apart from everything else, at some time in the past it would have been much closeer and packed together in s small space.

We can see how much matter there is, for the most part, and we are starting to get a good understand of how matter behaves and would behave under a variety of conditions and at different energies.

When you are trying to simulate extremely hot, dense, and energetic matter, the best way to do that would be to squeeeeeze as much matter as you can into a small space with very high energy. The way particle physicists can do that is what accelerators which will knock atomic nuclei together so hard, that much of the kinetic energy itself turns into mass, creating a very hot, dense soup of exotic particles, (no longer resembling whatever substance was originally collided in any way, shape or form) which then will immediately decay as much of the mass created relinquishes it's energy. All of this can be detected.


19 posted on 07/22/2005 5:55:14 AM PDT by Bones75
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: razoroccam

At the velocities under which the gold atoms collide, so much heat and pressure are created that the gold nuclei no longer exist. The gold atoms essentially 'melt' into their constituent particles. It so hot and the pressures are so high that even the protons and neutrons are 'melted' into their constituent particles, quarks and gluons. The conditions necessary for this to happen occurred shortly after the Big Bang. This experiment give a glimpse as to what condition matter was in under those conditions and how it behaved. It is opening a door into experimental work at temperatures and pressures so extreme that they have never been directly observed before.


20 posted on 07/22/2005 5:58:19 AM PDT by doc30 (Democrats are to morals what and Etch-A-Sketch is to Art.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: PatrickHenry

Maybe our Big Bang was caused by scientists in another universe doing experiments with a heavy ion collider. :o)


21 posted on 07/22/2005 8:30:42 AM PDT by malakhi
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: PatrickHenry; Dawsonville_Doc

cool beans.


22 posted on 07/22/2005 9:33:04 AM PDT by King Prout (and the Clinton Legacy continues: like Herpes, it is a gift that keeps on giving.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: King Prout
Yes, but in this business of posting threads, you realize that some aren't winners. That's how it goes.
23 posted on 07/22/2005 11:02:13 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas. The List-O-Links is at my homepage.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: zzen01

Science prefers to use observations of reality rather than picking a specific religious story out of thousands and assuming a priori that it is the truth.


24 posted on 07/22/2005 11:48:56 AM PDT by Dimensio (http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif <-- required reading before you use your next apostrophe!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: LIConFem
True. But Genesis doesn't say how He created the Heavens and the Earth.

Actually Genesis does tell us how He created the heavens and the earth. The phrase: "and God said" is used a lot in Genesis. A christian knows that he or she has [the mirical of] eternal life because of what God has said. He speaks and it is!

If the mirical of eternal life is known because God said so - to those who believe on Christ Jesus; why is it so hard to believe that God spoke and everything was - simply because He said so? Selah...

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Hebrews 11:3

By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

Psalm 33:6

For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.

Psalm 33:9

25 posted on 07/22/2005 6:18:04 PM PDT by Down South P.E. (Be a Berean Acts 17:11)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: PatrickHenry

This is interesting...

Two thoughts:
First: The most perfect fluid (to date)... liquid Helium in cryogenic conditions. (superfluid)

And...the article describes the expectation of finding this primordial fluid to be like a gas, but finding it instead like a liquid. The difference between the two is a fixed volume of a liquid (usually as a function of temperature).
The discovery implies a model of inter-particle bonding of some kind. (We aren't dealing with atoms here).


26 posted on 07/22/2005 7:38:02 PM PDT by edwin hubble
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson