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Calculating Conditions at the Birth of the Universe
Date:8/25/2014

t;But with the invention of petaflop computing, we were able to calculate the properties with a theory proposed years ago when petaflop-scale computers weren't even around yet," Soltz said.

The research has implications for our understanding of the evolution of the universe during the first microsecond after the Big Bang, when the universe expanded and cooled to a temperature below 10 trillion degrees.

Below this temperature, quarks and gluons are confined, existing only in hadronic bound states such as the familiar proton and neutron. Above this temperature, these bound states cease to exist and quarks and gluons instead form plasma, which is strongly coupled near the transition and coupled more and more weakly as the temperature increases.

"The result provides an important validation of our understanding of the strong interaction at high temperatures, and aids us in our interpretation of data collected at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Large Hadron Collider at CERN." Soltz said.

Soltz and Pavlos Vranas, along with former colleague Thomas Luu, wrote an essay predicting that if there were powerful enough computers, the QCD phase transition could be calculated. The essay was published in Computing in Science & Engineering in 2007, "back when a petaflop really did seem like a lot of computing," Soltz said. "With the invention of petaflop computers, the calculation took us several months to complete, but the 2007 estimate turned out to be pretty close."

The extremely computationally intensive calculation was made possib
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