Graduate Center Physicists Peer Into the Start of the Universe, Thanks to $400,000 Grant

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Professors Adrian Dumitru (GC/Baruch, Physics) and Jamal Jalilian-Marian (GC/Baruch, Physics) received $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy to study high-energy quantum chromodynamics in heavy-ion collisions. This work will help researchers better understand the structures of particles like protons and neutrons, and the phase of matter that existed at the very beginning of the universe.

Adrian DumitruCombined with previous grants, Jalilian-Marian and Dumitru have, together, received over $1.7 million from the Department of Energy. The new funding, which will cover two years of research, will also help support the work of two graduate students, including travel to workshops and conferences.

The intent of Jalilian-Marian and Dumitru’s work is to better understand the part of the
Standard Model of particle physics that deals with the strong interaction. This is the force that binds quark particles together to make the more commonly known protons and neutrons. Protons and neutrons make up the center, or nucleus, of every atom in every material and living thing.

Jamal-Jalilian-Marian“The goal of researching the fundamental laws of nature is to better understand the universe we live in,” Dumitru said.

Additionally, their work will give insight into the properties of the matter that existed less than one microsecond after the big bang. At this point, quarks were not yet confined into protons and neutrons, and instead freely existed as the “quark gluon plasma.” Scientists use particle colliders such as those at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island and at CERN in Switzerland to re-create this state of matter. As theoretical physicists, Dumitru and Jalilian-Marian do not perform these experiments themselves, but their work aims to understand the experiments’ results.

“Using quantum chromodynamics as the starting point, we investigate the outcome of the current experiments and make predictions for the future ones that can be experimentally verified or falsified,” Jalilian-Marian said. “This will help us better understand the extreme limits of quantum chromodynamics, which are largely unexplored.”

Submitted on: JUL 29, 2021

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