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Extreme Matter: Mother of all material flows into view

10:40am, April 20, 2005

When matter was new in the universe, it was an exotic gas whose components later congealed into the more-ordinary matter made of atoms. At least, that was the story. Now, physicists trying to re-create that gas in an accelerator say that the universe's original stuff appears to have been a liquid.

Like the gas that had been expected, the ur-liquid the physicists made is ultrahot and ultradense—up to 150,000 times as hot as the sun's core and 100 times as dense as ordinary atomic nuclei.

It's essentially a sample of primordial matter from the explosive birth of the universe, Samuel Aronson of Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y., said at a press conference Monday in Tampa, Fla., at a meeting of the American Physical Society. "We think we're looking at a phenomenon last seen in the universe more than 13 billion years ago," he says.

Such material presumably permeated the universe during the first microseconds after the Big Bang. Then, it cooled and dif

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