Radiations is a weekly electronic newsletter published by the Physics and Astronomy Department of Carleton College. The deadline for materials to be included in Radiations is 9:00 AM Monday of the week you would like the information to appear. Contact tfields@carleton.edu if you want to be added or removed from this mailing list.

Volume 19, Issue 17 (February 18, 2013)

Rachel Osofsky Comps Talk

January 17, 2013

The First Three Minutes of the Universe

The birth of the universe is a phenomenon which has long captured the interest of many, yet the exact circumstances of its beginning remain elusive. The most widely accepted theory for the birth of our universe is that of the Big Bang, an explosion from an initial singularity. At this point in time, physics as we now know it didn't exist. The four main forces that govern interactions were combined together and many of the particles that make up our current universe were not yet present. It has been theorized that starting at an approximate age of 10^(-35) seconds, the universe began to undergo an exponential expansion, known as inflation. There was then a transition from a "hot soup" of quarks and gluons (known as the quark-gluon plasma) to a hadron gas, followed by Big Bang nucleosynthesis, when the first nuclei were formed. In my talk, I will review what is known and theorized about the first three minutes of the universe's lifetime.