LHC 'Big Questions'
3) What happened in the Big Bang?
What was the Universe made of before the matter we see around us formed? The LHC will recreate, on a microscale, conditions that existed during the first billionth of a second of the Big Bang.
At the earliest moments of the Big Bang, the Universe consisted of a searingly hot soup of fundamental particles - quarks, leptons and the force carriers. As the Universe cooled to 1000 billion degrees, the quarks and gluons (carriers of the strong force) combined into composite particles like protons and neutrons. The LHC will collide lead nuclei so that they release their constituent quarks in a fleeting ‘Little Bang’. This will take us back to the time before these particles formed, re-creating the conditions early in the evolution of the universe, when quarks and gluons were free to mix without combining. The debris detected will provide important information about this very early state of matter.
© 2013 Science and Technology Facilities Council - All Rights Reserved.