- Scientists have reproduced the primary substance
- This soup of quarks existed at the beginning of the universe
- Quarks, Elementary Particles (Dear Watson)
What does the universe look like in the first seconds of its life? According to scientists, the answer to this question is beyond doubt. The universe was too dense and hot to know from its very beginnings a very strange shape that has been christened since “quark soup”.
However, this form of matter has not been observed in nature. In the 13 billion years since the Big Bang, the “soup” seems to have finally disappeared, giving way to more stable and ordinary matter. But recently, scientists have succeeded in reproducing this state of matter.
Using a particle accelerator at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island near New York, they have brought this vanishing matter back to life. In order to achieve such an extreme result, the atoms were propelled at 99.95% of the speed of light, or roughly 300,000 km/s. Cooled to near absolute zero (-273 degrees Celsius), they ended up colliding, creating “quark soup” with them.
The experiment is described in a video from Scientific American available below.
This discovery makes it possible to learn more about the origin of the universe, but also about the physical laws that govern the evolution of matter under exceptional circumstances. By observing the “free” quarks in their nuclei, scientists hope to understand how the universe has been able to evolve and expand over the years.
What are quarks?
Matter can be observed at many scales. With a good microscope, it will be possible to see bacteria or grains of sand in the smallest detail. They themselves consist of molecules. The latter is a group of atoms. gathered in Mendeleev’s paintingAtoms are a collection of three particles, the electron in the periphery while the proton and neutron make up the nucleus.
Quarks are elementary particles, and they are at the heart of the neutron. Connected to each other, they form a strong. In physics, quarks exist in six different forms (u, c, t, d, s, b). A (positive) proton consists of two U (up) and one D (down) quark. For a neutron, the D quarks will be in the majority (two for one).
The laws of physics prevent us from observing them individually. By putting matter into a state of “quark soup,” scientists hope to understand more about these elementary particles and, in turn, the nature of the world around us.