Ask Ethan #76: The very early Universe (Synopsis)

“It followed from the special theory of relativity that mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing — a somewhat unfamiliar conception for the average mind.” –Albert Einstein

In physics, we’re always on that quest for the next frontier: the next order of magnitude higher in energy, the next order of magnitude closer to absolute zero, the next extra decimal place in our quest towards the speed of light. As far as we’ve come in terms of pushing the frontiers, we’re always striving to go a little bit farther.

Image credit: RHIC collaboration, Brookhaven, viahttp://www.bnl.gov/newsroom/news.php?a=11403.
Image credit: RHIC collaboration, Brookhaven, viahttp://www.bnl.gov/newsroom/news.php?a=11403.

So when we take stock of what happened in the early Universe — from the beginning stages of the hot Big Bang — what did all the known particles (and antiparticles) actually do? Presumably, when things were hot-and-dense enough, they all existed in great abundance.

Image credit: E. Siegel.
Image credit: E. Siegel.

So what’s the story of each of them in the very early Universe? Find out on this week’s Ask Ethan!