Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The First Few Microseconds

From Scientific American's Weekly Update:

In recent experiments, physicists have replicated conditions of the infant universe--with startling results.

By Michael Riordan and William A. Zajc

For the past five years, hundreds of scientists have been using a powerful new atom smasher at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island to mimic conditions that existed at the birth of the universe. Called the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC, pronounced "rick"), it clashes two opposing beams of gold nuclei traveling at nearly the speed of light. The resulting collisions between pairs of these atomic nuclei generate exceedingly hot, dense bursts of matter and energy to simulate what happened during the first few microseconds of the big bang. These brief "mini bangs" give physicists a ringside seat on some of the earliest moments of creation.
Read more at Scientific American

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