The ALICE, ATLAS and CMS collaborations at CERN will reveal new findings in their exploration of the primordial universe today. They’ll do so at the Quark Matter 2012 conference in Washington, DC.
Together, the projects have accumulated a plethora of new results, including new measurements of “the kind of matter that probably existed in the first instants of the universe.” Most notably, they’ve reached a stage at which they can now observed the “phenomena of quark-gluon plasma.”
Most of the experiments conducted at CERN are designed to recreate the conditions of our early universe. And by “early,” I mean the very first moments after the big bang.
That’s when quarks and gluons, the “basic building blocks of matter,” moved freely within something called a “quark-gluon plasma.” They weren’t bound within composite particles like protons and neutrons, as they are today.
It’s the job of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN to perform particle collisions and attempt to recreate those very same conditions. These new findings are the result of lead ion collisions performed in 2011, and are a big step in our understanding of the early universe.
According to CERN Director-General Rolf Heuer, “The field of heavy-ion physics is crucial for probing the properties of matter in the primordial universe, one of the key questions of fundamental physics that the LHC and its experiments are designed to address. It illustrates how in addition to the investigation of the recently discovered Higgs-like boson, physicists at the LHC are studying many other important phenomena in both proton–proton and lead–lead collisions.”