Visualizations are Important

Figure 1: Artist’s conception of AdS/CFT. The evolution of the proton at different
length scales is mapped into the compact AdS5 dimension z. Dirichlet bag-like boundary
condition,     (z)jz=z0 = 0, is imposed at the confinement radius z = z0 = 1= QCD,
thus limiting interquark separations.

 

String theorists describe the physics of black holes in five-dimensional space-time. They found that these five-dimensional objects provide a good approximation of the quark-gluon plasma in one fewer dimension, a relationship similar to the one between a three-dimensional object and its two-dimensional shadow. Image: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Recreating the conditions present just after the Big Bang has given experimentalists a glimpse into how the universe formed. Now, scientists have begun to see striking similarities between the properties of the early universe and a theory that aims to unite gravity with quantum mechanics, a long-standing goal for physicists.

“Combining calculations from experiments and theories could help us capture some universal characteristic of nature,” said MIT theoretical physicist Krishna Rajagopal, who discussed these possibilities at the recent Quark Matter conference in Annecy, France.

One millionth of a second after the Big Bang, the universe was a hot, dense sea of freely roaming particles called quarks and gluons. As the universe rapidly cooled, the particles joined together to form protons and neutrons, and the unique state of matter known as quark-gluon plasma disappeared. See: String theory may hold answers about quark-gluon plasma

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