HKUST helps to find how universe began

HKUST helps to find how universe began

Local scientistswork with Americans to test particles that seem to have a historical clock built into them

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Scientists accept the universe is expanding, but still disagree about how it began.
Photo: EPA

The mysteries of the universe may finally be known, thanks to scientists from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). Or at least, the mystery of how it all started.

The scientists from HKUST worked with others at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in the United States to discover a method to observe and test the different theories about how the universe began.

Scientists for the past 100 years have widely accepted that the universe is expanding, but still disagree about its origins. Some believe the universe started by expanding very fast and increasing in speed, while others believe that it might have been expanding more slowly or even shrinking.

There was never a way to test these different theories - until now. Assistant professor of HKUST's physics department, Yi Wang, along with the other scientists from Harvard-Smithsonian found that some particles that we know existed at the start of the universe could be used like clocks. Using the time reference of these particles, it is possible to study the rate of the growing or shrinking of the universe and compare it with the theories.

The HKUST-Harvard research paper, which has been accepted by the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics, suggests that the time of every prehistoric era can be labelled using these particles, which would let scientists show the order of how time passed all the way back to the start of the universe.

"Soon we may be able to prove the universe's history, which has been a myth for so long," Wang says.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
HKUST helps to find how universe began

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