Nav: Home

HKUST-Harvard Scientists discovered ways to clock the beginning of the Universe

January 26, 2016

While the Big Bang theory has been a very successful model of the birth of our universe, astrophysical observations found that it does require very special initial conditions. Determining the primordial universe scenario that preceded the Big Bang and gave rise to such initial conditions has been a topic of contention among scientists. The most popular theory of the primordial universe is cosmic inflation, during which the universe was expanding with an extremely fast exponential rate. On the other hand, there are also theories that contend that our primordial universe was fast contracting, slowly contracting, static or slowly expanding.

The persisting problem is that there has not been a clear way to distinguish those scenarios from observations. While we have learned much information about the spatial variation of the primordial universe from observations, without a chronological way to label the primordial stages of the universe, scientists could not know for sure whether the universe was expanding or contracting. Now, theorists are proposing a new method that can solve this puzzle at once.

Scientists from HKUST, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and University of Texas at Dallas, Yi Wang (HKUST), Xingang Chen and Mohammad Hossein Namjoo (Harvard/UT Dallas), recently proposed a method to observationally distinguish those primordial universe scenarios. They note that some heavy particles in the primordial universe oscillate like clocks; and with clocks, one can label primordial stages of the universe with time and thus reconstruct the expansion or contraction history of the primordial universe. These heavy particles are called the "primordial standard clocks".

"Imagine you took the frames of a movie and stacked them all randomly on top of each other. If those frames aren't labeled with a time, you can't put them in order. Did the primordial universe crunch or bang? If you don't know whether the movie is running forward or in reverse, you can't tell the difference," explains Chen. "The primordial standard clocks, however, put time stamps on the frames."

"From observing the oscillation of the massive fields, we are able to reconstruct when the spatial variations are created in the primordial universe," says HKUST Assistant Professor Yi Wang. "Soon, we may be able to verify the evolutionary history towards how our universe was created, which has remained a myth for so long."

The findings were detailed in a paper that has been accepted for publication by the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics, and a preprint version is accessible at http://arxiv.org/abs/1509.03930.
-end-


Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Related Big Bang Articles:

'Big Food' companies have less power than you might think
A Dartmouth study finds that 'Big Food' companies are striving to make food more sustainable from farm to factory but have less power than you might think.
Looking for signs of the Big Bang in the desert
The Simons Observatory will be built in the Chilean Atacama desert for the purposes of studying primordial gravitational waves which originated in the first instants of the Big Bang.
More bang for the buck
Researchers find cost-effective solutions to sediment runoff and other land-based pollution affecting West Maui reefs
Big data for the universe
Astronomers at Lomonosov Moscow State University in cooperation with their French colleagues and with the help of citizen scientists have released 'The Reference Catalog of galaxy SEDs,' which contains value-added information about 800,000 galaxies.
Can big data yield big ideas? Blend novel and familiar, new study finds
Struggling to get your creative juices flowing for a new idea or project?
Why big brains are rare
Do big-brained creatures steal energy for them from other organs or eat more to supply this expensive tissue?
New antimatter breakthrough to help illuminate mysteries of the Big Bang
Swansea University physicists working with an international collaborative team at CERN, conduct the first precision study of antihydrogen, the antimatter equivalent of hydrogen.
Big data for little creatures
A multi-disciplinary team of researchers at UC Riverside has received $3 million from the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship program to prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers who will learn how to exploit the power of big data to understand insects.
How we escaped from the Big Bang
A Griffith University physicist is challenging the conventional view of space and time to show how the world advances through time.
Big PanDA tackles big data for physics and other future extreme scale scientific applications
A team of physicists just received $2.1 million in funding for 2016-2017 from DOE's Advanced Scientific Computing Research program to enhance a 'workload management system' for handling the ever-increasing data demands of two experiments at the Large Hadron Collider and expanding its use as a general workload management service for a Department of Energy supercomputer.

Related Big Bang Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Jumpstarting Creativity
Our greatest breakthroughs and triumphs have one thing in common: creativity. But how do you ignite it? And how do you rekindle it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on jumpstarting creativity. Guests include economist Tim Harford, producer Helen Marriage, artificial intelligence researcher Steve Engels, and behavioral scientist Marily Oppezzo.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#524 The Human Network
What does a network of humans look like and how does it work? How does information spread? How do decisions and opinions spread? What gets distorted as it moves through the network and why? This week we dig into the ins and outs of human networks with Matthew Jackson, Professor of Economics at Stanford University and author of the book "The Human Network: How Your Social Position Determines Your Power, Beliefs, and Behaviours".