From The University of Heidelberg [Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg] (DE) Via “” : “An early universe analog built in a lab in Germany”

U Heidelberg bloc

From The University of Heidelberg [Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg] (DE)




Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain.

A team of researchers at Universität Heidelberg has built an early universe analog in their laboratory using chilled potassium atoms. In their paper published in the journal Nature [below], the group describes their simulator and how it might be used. Silke Weinfurtner, with the University of Nottingham, has published a News & Views [below] piece in the same journal issue outlining the work done by the team in Germany.

Understanding what occurred during the first few moments after the Big Bang is difficult due to the lack of evidence left behind. That leaves astrophysicists with nothing but theory to describe what might have happened. To give credence to their theories, scientists have built models that theoretically represent the conditions being described. In this new effort, the researchers used a new approach to build a physical model in their laboratory to simulate conditions just after the Big Bang.

Beginning with the theory that that the Big Bang gave rise to an expanding universe, the researchers sought to create what they describe as a “quantum field simulator.” Since most theories suggest it was likely that the early universe was very cold, near absolute zero, the researchers created an environment that was very cold.

They then added potassium atoms to represent the universe they were trying to simulate.

The atoms were chilled to just above absolute zero and slowed down using lasers, resulting in the formation of a Bose-Einstein condensate—a type of superfluid. The researchers then used light from a specially designed projector to push the atoms into desired arrangements. Under the setup, superfluid excitons known as phonons propagate in two directions.

By manipulating the speed of propagation, the researchers were able to mimic theorized wave propagation in the early universe. They suggest the behavior of their superfluid was somewhat similar to the physics that governed spacetime and the production of particles in those moments just after the Big Bang.

One of the first experiments conducted using the simulator involved mimicking the expansion of the early universe—the atoms in the superfluid moved in a ripple pattern in ways similar to what has been predicted by theory if pairs of particles are being created.

Science papers:
News & Views [Nature]

See the full article here .


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Heidelberg University, officially the Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg [Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg] (DE)is a public research university in Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Founded in 1386 on instruction of Pope Urban VI, Heidelberg is Germany’s oldest university and one of the world’s oldest surviving universities. It was the third university established in the Holy Roman Empire.

Heidelberg has been a coeducational institution since 1899. The university consists of twelve faculties and offers degree programmes at undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral levels in some 100 disciplines.

Heidelberg comprises three major campuses: the humanities are predominantly located in Heidelberg’s Old Town, the natural sciences and medicine in the Neuenheimer Feld quarter, and the social sciences within the inner-city suburb Bergheim. The language of instruction is usually German, while a considerable number of graduate degrees are offered in English as well as some in French.

As of 2017, 29 Nobel Prize winners have been affiliated with the university. Modern scientific psychiatry, psychopharmacology, psychiatric genetics, environmental physics, and modern sociology were introduced as scientific disciplines by Heidelberg faculty. Approximately 1,000 doctorates are completed every year, with more than one third of the doctoral students coming from abroad. International students from some 130 countries account for more than 20 percent of the entire student body.

Heidelberg is a German Excellence University, part of the U15, as well as a founding member of the League of European Research Universities and The Coimbra Group Universities (EU). The university’s noted alumni include eleven domestic and foreign heads of state or heads of government. In international comparison Heidelberg University occupies top positions in rankings and enjoys a high academic reputation.


After a 2003 structural reformation, the university consists of 12 faculties, which in turn comprise several disciplines, departments, and institutes. As a consequence of the Bologna process, most faculties now offer Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. degrees to comply with the new European degree standard. Notable exceptions are the undergraduate programs in law, medicine, dentistry and pharmacy, from which students still graduate with the State Examination, a central examination at Master’s level held by the State of Baden-Württemberg.

The Faculty of Behavioural Sciences and Empirical Cultural Sciences
The Faculty of Biosciences
The Faculty of Chemistry and Earth Sciences
The Faculty of Law
The Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science
The Faculty of Medicine
The Faculty of Medicine in Mannheim
The Faculty of Modern Languages
The Faculty of Philosophy and History
The Faculty of Physics and Astronomy
The Faculty of Theology
The Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences

Associated institutions

Network for Research on Ageing
Central Institute of Mental Health Mannheim
Heidelberg Center for American Studies
Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research,
Heidelberg State Observatory,
University Hospital Heidelberg,
University Hospital Mannheim


The university has partnerships nationally and internationally. In particular, it maintains longstanding collaborations in research and education with the following independent research institutes located in and around Heidelberg:

Center for Jewish Studies Heidelberg
European Molecular Biology Laboratory
German Cancer Research Center (Helmholtz Association)
Heavy Ion Research Center Darmstadt (Helmholtz Association),
Heidelberg University of Education
Heidelberg Academy of Sciences
Karlsruhe Research Center (Helmholtz Association)
Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (Max Planck Society)
Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law (Max Planck Society)
Max Planck Institute for Medical Research (Max Planck Society)
Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics (Max Planck Society)