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Millions awarded to research on the birth of the universe

How did the universe look right after the Big Bang? Two researchers at the Faculty of Science will now receive more than SEK 26 million from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation for a project that focuses on the birth of the universe, more specifically, the microsecond when existence consisted solely of liquid plasma.
Peter Christiansen and Leif Lönnblad. Photo: Hampus Nilsson
Peter Christiansen and Leif Lönnblad. Photo: Hampus Nilsson

Peter Christiansen, associate professor at the Department of Physics, has been awarded some SEK 26 million for his project in which he intends to find out more about quark-gluon plasma. He will do so in close collaboration with his Lund colleague Leif Lönnblad, professor at the Department of Astronomy and Theoretical Physics. The project will be conducted using particle collisions at the particle physics laboratory, CERN, outside Geneva in Switzerland.

The actual plasma created through the experiments at CERN is not visible, but with the help of detectors surrounding the collision point in the lab, the researchers can measure thousands of particles which are formed when the plasma has cooled down. By analysing these particle measurements, they are able to retrieve information about the plasma itself. The current project, to be run by Christiansen and Lönnblad, is about improving the calculation models that are used.

“We will develop new methods for analysing both proton and lead collisions. This will provide us with completely new tools for analysing the quark-gluon plasma and, hopefully, we will ultimately learn more about what the universe looked like at the moment of birth”, says Peter Christiansen.

Lena Björk Blixt

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