Go ask ALICE: Learning about the Big Bang
Nearly 14 billion years ago, the universe began with a bang — a big one.
Scientists believe that the universe and everything within it began as an extremely hot, dense “soup” that eventually gave rise to galaxies, stars, planets and life and that continues to expand to this day.
Now scientists around the world are pushing back the frontiers of our understanding about the moment the universe was born using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a giant particle accelerator at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) near Geneva, Switzerland.
One of four main experiments at the collider, ALICE (A Lead Ion Collider Experiment), which ran throughout November, is trying to recreate the conditions that existed just 10 microseconds after the Big Bang, when the universe was two trillion degrees hot. Scientists are doing this by smashing together particles at unprecedented speeds, creating new particles and massive amounts of energy.
More than 1000 physicists and engineers from over 100 universities and laboratories in 31 countries are involved with the ALICE experiment, which will run over the course of several years.
John Harris, professor of physics at Yale, is head of the U.S. ALICE collaboration and spent most of November at the LHC, where he anxiously awaited the first data to come out of the ALICE experiment.
In this video, Harris explains what scientists hope to discover from the ALICE experiment.