Skip navigation
A. Discovering a New State of Matter

Narrator: This is Science Today. A team of researchers discovered a new state of matter, which can improve our understanding about how the universe was created. Daniel Cebra, a University of California, Davis physics professor, was one of the collaborators in the experiments that produced this discovery.

Cebra: To put this whole thing in a framework, we're trying to understand big bang cosmology and matter at the very beginning of time.

Narrator: Normal matter consists of protons and neutrons that make up the normal muclei at the core of atoms. But going back in time, when conditions were hotter and denser, these protons and neutrons were broken apart into what are called quarks. What this group discovered using a heavy ion collider, was an even earlier stage known as the quark-gluon plasma state.

Cebra: For a brief moment, we had created this quark-gluon plasma in the laboratory - an area where we can control it and we can study it's properties. So that was really exciting - is to be able to say that we've created something that's only existed originally a few microseconds after the big bang.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.