The first results from the Large Hadron Collider's ALICE experiment, an experiment that examines the nature of the quark-fluon plasma that made up the early universe, is revealing some big surprises, according to

Quark-fluon plasma is the term physicists use to describe the universe only a few microseconds after the Big Bang. At this super hot, high-energy stage, quarks and gluons — which are several of the basic building blocks of matter — float nearly free. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN can replicate these conditions by slamming nuclei from lead ions together at the highest possible energies.

The high energies present at this stage left many physicists to suspect that the quark-gluon plasma would behave more like a gas, but initial experiments are proving that those suspicions may be wrong. The early universe, it turns out, acted more like a liquid.

"These first results would seem to suggest that the universe would have behaved like a super-hot liquid immediately after the Big Bang," said Dr. David Evans of the University of Birmingham’s School of Physics and Astronomy.

So why is any of this important? For one, a number of theoretical physics models may need to be rewritten. In addition, many of these technological developments have direct implications for everyday life such as with medical imaging, microelectronics and information technology. It also excites the imagination. The ability to "peer" at the gooey hot sludge that existed at the dawn of creation is a remarkable advancement.

The ALICE collaboration consists of about 1,000 physicists and engineers from about 100 institutes in 30 countries. The experiments with lead ions are expected to run through early December.

Bryan Nelson ( @@brynelson ) writes about everything from environmental problems here on Earth to big questions in space.

Early universe was a liquid, say scientists
Surprising new results from the Large Hadron Collider rule out a number of theoretical physics models.