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ALICE, Quark-Gluon Plasmas and the Origin of the Universe – A Cosmologist’s Comment November 16, 2010

Posted by ASTRO Section Chair in : Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASTRO), Cosmology, Gravitation, and Relativity (CGR) , trackback Bookmark and Share

Currently the best modern framework for understanding the origin of large scale structure in our universe is called cosmic inflation.

While still not completely resolved, inflation predicts the observed features of the universe split seconds after the big bang and three hundred thousand years during another era where the universe was filled with another type of plasma-an ionized gas of baryons and photons.   However when inflation was first ignited (10-36 seconds), the universe was thought to be filled with pure vacuum energy, no particles and radiation.

One of the big mysteries in cosmology and fundamental physics is to understand precisely how inflation ended and dumped its energy into the form of radiation.  A curious hint is that at time 10-12 seconds the universe was filled only with the quark-gluon plasma.

A key mystery of cosmology and fundamental physics is to understand how the universe went from the inflating state to the quark-gluon plasma state.  By understanding this new state of matter, the quark gluon plasma, physicists can help us understand the physics of the early universe right at the LHC.

Likewise, string theorists are developing new tools within the framework of M/String-Theory called the Ads/CFT correspondence which gives new insights into the non-perturbative physics by relating the physics of charged black holes “holographically” to the quark-gluon plasma.  It is amusing to speculate on how this new understanding could impact the experiments at the LHC and any possible relation to the physics of cosmic inflation.

Stephon Alexander

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