Remember THIS? Click to remind yourself about the "Large Hadron Collider". Back in 2008 at CERN scientists prepared to use it to smash particles together and get a look at the Universe less than a second after the "big bang". They were looking for the reason matter IS matter. They've been smashing these protons together almost 7 months now.
The particle that hides from us and could explain why we are what we are, is the Higgs boson, as you might remember from the post link, above. It was dubbed the "God particle" and I remember people fearing if we attempted to re-create our Universe, we'd open black holes and the known world would ... disappear? Explode? Go to hell? There were all kinds of theories a few years ago.
Our Universe is 14.5 billion years old.
You're now looking at the most remarkable picture ever taken. It is 14 billions years old, a blink of an eye after the Big Bang. Created by WMAP, which measures the radiant heat from the BB, it shows the universe as it looked then - no stars, no galaxies. This is the farthest reaches of the universe we can reach using any source of light. The bright areas are clumps of matter which will become stars and galaxies by the hundreds of billions. DID YOU CATCH THAT???
It's the oldest because it took 14 billion years to reach us, and the youngest because it is a snapshot of the newborn universe. Many believe there could even be OTHER universes, more than this one, that at the edge of space is another dimension of another space!
What limits our view is TIME not space - beyond this distance, light just hasn't had enough time to reach us yet.
THIS IS AMAZING. It shows areas where no galaxies exist - what's out there? The COBE Project used backround microwave radiation left from the "big bang" to map it. It is our baby picture!! If you haven't clicked the opening link, please let me remind you of why we're doing this: (the ho-hum part)
Take a glass of water - it's liquid. Freeze it, it's solid. Heat it up, it's a gas. It's all the same matter, but in different states. And if you took any material into a lab and tear off the electrons from the atoms, you have another state of matter called plasma, or dark matter/dark energy, and 98% of the Universe is made up of it. Here's WMAP's model of our known universe:
Physicists theorize that before the creation of space/time there was another form of matter entirely. In fact, there's a theory that TIME may have existed even before space, in another dimension. GOT THAT ONE???
The only way to obtain this "creation" matter is to melt the nucleus of an atom, releasing what's inside. If it can be created, scientists at LHC will have darn good information as to how this matter evolved into what is now a Universe. Not to mention you and me. (ok the ho-hum part is over)
Everything had to start somewhere, from something. We're still trying to find that "something". The reason matter IS matter: The Higgs particle. (If you need a refresher about the Higgs-boson, click the link at the start of this thing - it's called the "God particle" because even scientists realize all this started from an unknown)
You know how the universe is expanding, and that excites people? It shouldn't, the expansion is actually the BIG BANG still throwing out particles from what existed before all this did - the farther away from our galaxy. the farther they move. We know that before the "big bang" something existed that was extremely small yet incredibly dense, and when it exploded, it created the cosmos we know today. Yes, even after 14.5 billion years, it's still expanding outward from whatever it was, WHERE ever it was. And it could be only one universe of so so many more. Billions of trillions of universi. WHAT IS OUT THERE?? Since it's so distant from our own universe, this might be a very empty area of space/time. So far, so empty....
Back to work at the LHC - what scientists are doing is, instead of protons they're smashing lead ions together, in an experiment dubbed "ALICE". These tiny fireballs will exist for less than a millionth of a trillionth of a second - and generate temperatures of over ten million degrees - that's a million times hotter than the center of our star, "Sol" - the sun.
The search continues.........but hey - we got pictures!!
Some details courtesy of Brian Cox, Physics World, NASA, CERN updates