The Large Hadron Collider has created a super-dense building block of existence.

Scientists operating the Large Hadron Collider have announced the creation of a new instance of quark-gluon plasma, the densest form of matter ever observed by humanity. The unique material is 100,000 times hotter than the sun and denser than any known object other than a black hole.

To put it in perspective somewhat, a neutron star is said to be approximately as dense as the entire human population compressed into a sugar cube (via Wikipedia, I know, but it gets the point across). Quark-gluon plasma is denser than that. LHC team leader David Evans says: “If you had a cubic centimeter of this stuff, it would weigh 40 billion tons.” Somehow, a material such as this can exist in its current quantity without destroying everything we know and love.

It’s believed that the universe existed as quark-gluon plasma until it cooled into what we’re made of today. The LHC created it by smashing together lead ions at nearly the speed of light.

Quark-gluon plasma has been made before, though the version created at the LHC is of higher energy and scientists are recording slight differences in measurements as it cools. In both cases, the material has acted as a “perfect liquid.” Evans explains: “If you stir a cup of tea with a spoon and then take the spoon out, the tea stirs for a while and then it stops. If you had a perfect liquid and you stirred it, it would carry on going around forever.”

As the LHC moves to operate at its full capacity, which it isn’t at the moment, more instances of quark-gluon plasma are predicted to be created along with some potential Higgs Boson action. The machine’s activities are obviously way above my pay grade, but I think we can all appreciate the work being done at the LHC as long as it doesn’t suck us into Dimension X.

Source: National Geographic

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