The Recipe for a Universe
The recipe for the universe
calls for a hot primordial soup of elementary particles four picoseconds after
the bang, cooling in the expansion of the universe to form neutrons and protons
from the quarks and gluons a microsecond after the bang, which then form nuclei
from the neutrons and protons three minutes after the bang, which finally make
atoms, three-hundred-thousand years AB.
So in a very real sense,
everything we see in the universe came from the primordial soup, and we know
about the early universe because we can cook a little bit of it in the laboratory
and sample it. With this taste of
success, we can try to understand the universe before the era of primordial
One of the wonderful things
about science is that every answer seems to lead to a deeper and more
fundamental question. If everything
comes from the primordial soup, it is irresistible to ask about the origin of
In the last few years
cosmologists have developed a compelling theory for the origin of the
primordial soup: it came from nothing.
Since nothing is not a very scientific sounding word, I usually refer to
nothing as the vacuum. This idea, first
proposed by Alan Guth and known as the inflationary universe, assumes that
before primordial soup the universe consisted of nothing but empty vacuum.
Contributed by: Dr. Edward Kolb