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4 Trillion Degrees: New Man-Made Temperature Record Set by US Lab

By smashing atoms of gold together at near-light speeds, scientists have created a primordial plasma state that existed for only one-millionth of second after the Big Bang occurred.

What’s the Latest Development?

Scientists at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York have created the highest-ever man-made temperature, slamming atoms of gold together at near-light speed to create a blast measured at four trillion degrees Celsius–250,000 times hotter than the sun’s core. The collision resulted in impact energy so intense that “the neutrons and protons inside the gold nuclei ‘melted,’ releasing fundamental quarks and gluons that then formed a nearly friction-free primordial plasma.” Scientists believe this plasma existed only one-millionth of a second immediately after the Big Bang occurred. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Curiously, the physical state of “friction-free primordial plasma,” which was observed as a result of the super-hot collision, has been seen at temperatures approaching absolute zero–ten million trillion times colder than quark-gluon plasma. “This is just one among many unexpected connections we’ve found between [our laboratory’s] physics and other scientific forefronts,” said Brookhaven physicist Steven Vigdor. “The unity of physics is a beautiful thing!” Europe’s Large Hadron Collider, which is capable of producing 30% higher temperature levels, is expected to release new energy data soon. 

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