Using ‘Time Stamps’ To Understand The Birth Of Our Universe

Theorists have proposed that you can confirm theories of how our universe was created using ‘time stamps’ called primordial standard clocks.

AsianScientist (Feb. 5, 2016) – Researchers have proposed using oscillating heavy particles as ‘standard clocks,’ allowing scientists to reconstruct the history of the primordial universe. Their study will be published in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics.

While the Big Bang theory is a very successful and popular model explaining the origins of the universe, it requires very specific initial conditions. Determining the primordial universe scenario that preceded the Big Bang and gave rise to such initial conditions is a topic of contention among scientists.

The most popular theory of the primordial universe is cosmic inflation—the universe expanding at an extremely fast, exponential rate. On the other hand, there are also theories that contend that our primordial universe was, for example, fast contracting, slowly contracting, static or slowly expanding.

Unfortunately, there is currently no clear way to distinguish those scenarios from observations. Without a chronological way to label the primordial stages of the universe, scientists cannot know for sure whether the universe was expanding or contracting.

Now, theorists from the Hong Kong University of Science And Technology (HKUST), the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the University of Texas are proposing a new method that can solve this puzzle.

Some heavy particles in the primordial universe oscillate like clocks, and with clocks, one can label primordial stages of the universe with time. Thus, the expansion or contraction history of the primordial universe can be reconstructed. 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,” explained co-author Chen Xingang. “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,” said 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 article can be found at: Chen et al. (2016) Quantum Primordial Standard Clocks.


Source: Hong Kong University of Science And Technology; Photo: Shutterstock.
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