How the Universe Works (2010) s03e04 Episode Script

First Second of the Big Bang

The most momentous second in history, the first.
In that first moment of creation, in the first second, Space and time, matter and energy, Everything was set into motion.
Space and time burst into existence, Giving birth to the universe.
More things happened in that first second Than will probably happen In the entire future history of the universe, no matter how long it lives.
This violent first second will define everything, including you.
So that very first second, understanding that Is the key to understanding the universe itself.
Captions paid for by discovery communications Look up at the night sky, At our universe an awesome spectacle, Stunning, exhilarating, humbling.
And look at all the world around us, Bursting with life, With natural wonders, With those we love.
All of this, everything we see, Comes from one miraculous moment the big bang.
The big bang was more than just a creation of matter.
It was the creation of the universe, Which means the creation of space and time.
Creating time, space, and everything is a pretty neat trick.
Obviously it happened.
But so far, physics hasn't figured out how.
We don't know why it banged.
We don't know what banged.
We don't know how it's banging.
All we know for sure, All of existence suddenly burst into life.
This is the beginning of the first second When time itself is set to zero.
It's the moment when everything we see, All hundred billion galaxies, Each of which contains a hundred billion stars, All of that material was compressed in a region which was infinitely small.
In its first second, The universe evolves more radically Than in the 13.
8 billion years that follow.
The first second of the universe Was the most important second the universe ever had.
And it went through more stages in that first second Than it has in all the time since.
So much happens so quickly That scientists need a whole new concept of time.
For human beings, one second can seem like a very short time.
But for the universe, an incredible amount can happen.
We measure our lives in hours, minutes, and seconds.
But they're useless at the time scale of creation Because the big bang unfolds almost instantaneously.
We have taken our understanding Of what the universe was like Back from one second to a tenth of a second, A hundredth of a second, a thousandth of a second, A millionth of a second, a billionth of a second, All the way back to a time where the laws of physics, As we now know them, break down.
That far back, time must be measured In unimaginably tiny slivers know as planck time.
One way of understanding How much actually happened in the first second Is to think in units of the planck time, The planck time being There's a billion billion billion billion billion Planck times in one second.
There are only a billion billion seconds In the entire history of the universe.
That's far fewer seconds in all of history Since one second to today Than there were from the planck time for the first second.
By breaking time up into such tiny fragments, We can imagine the birth of the universe moment by moment.
In the beginning, space and time are wrapped up In an infinitesimally small speck of pure energy.
As the planck time clock starts running, This knot of space and time somehow bursts into life.
The big bang wasn't an explosion in space.
It was an explosion of space.
As the hands of our cosmic clock approach the first planck time, All of space expands.
The universe emerges everywhere at once.
The wonderful thing is it happened right here At the end of your nose.
And it happened 5 billion light-Years away.
Every single point in space was involved in the big bang.
So it's not as if it's a ball that you can stand outside of.
Everywhere you are is inside of the big bang.
In this very first instant of creation, Some scientists believe that a single pure force, A super force, rules everything in the universe.
We think that the original universe was a state of perfection, A single unified force that existed at the instant of the big bang.
As the first planck times pass by, Something causes the super force to split shattering the state of perfection.
As the universe cools, these different forces freeze out.
That means they behave differently.
Think, for example, in terms of steam.
If i have steam and i cool it, it turns to a liquid.
If i cool it again, it turns to a solid.
So in the same way, as the universe began to cool, The different forces broke off from each other.
When the super force splits, A new force emerges to drive and shape the cosmos gravity.
It will mold matter into planets, stars, galaxies.
If gravity were a little bit stronger, Perhaps we would have had a big bang which would stop, And then it would re-Collapse immediately into a big crush.
Life would be impossible.
If gravity were a little weaker, Then we would have a big bang that just keeps on going, And the universe would freeze to death.
But gravity breaks away from the super force At exactly the right strength To create galaxies, stars, and life itself.
So our universe in some sense is fine-Tuned.
We're just right to have a universe that expands slowly, Making it possible to create dna and life as we know it.
Gravity may be the perfect strength For our universe, But it's not the only force that will govern the cosmos.
By the 10 millionth tick of the planck time clock, Another stupendous event will begin the wildest growth spurt In cosmic history.
The first second of the universe has barely begun.
And the shortest possible units of time, planck times, Are flying by in their millionths.
The universe is a super-Hot ball of radiation, Billions of times smaller than an atom, And dense beyond imagination.
Gravity has begun shaping the future of the cosmos.
But as the universe expands, temperature drops.
Another force arrives on the scene, a strong force.
Without the strong nuclear force, The nuclei of the atoms themselves would all disintegrate.
Three forces Gravity, the strong force, and the fractured super force Rule the universe as it hurdles towards its next milestone, An event that sets out the blueprint for the galaxies That fill the cosmos today.
We think this event happened Because it explains a longstanding mystery.
Everywhere we've looked in the universe, Its billions of galaxies are spread evenly, The same number in every direction.
Nobody could explain why.
All of these parts of the universe must have at one point Been in contact with each other.
It's kind of like having two people Who live on opposite sides of a country Getting up at the same time, Eating the same breakfast, dressing the same way, Even when they don't talk to each other.
There must be something common in their past that links them.
This problem needed a solution.
And in 1979, a young cosmologist named alan guth proposed one.
He called it inflation.
This was very exciting.
I suddenly realized that this might be the key To a very important secret of the universe.
But at the same time, i was, of course, very nervous because it was all new.
And i was shaky about whether or not it was right.
Guth speculated that the infant universe Went through a phenomenal growth spurt.
Cosmic inflation was a moment in the history, The very early history, of the universe When the expansion suddenly accelerated.
It got huge for the briefest moments of time.
Just 10 million planck times after the big bang, A tiny volume of space suddenly starts to expand Much more quickly than before.
This inflation is so rapid that it turns chaos into order, Spreading the constituents of our universe Evenly throughout space and fixing their positions within it.
As the universe cooled down in those earliest moments, It increased in volume by a factor of 10 to the 90th, In a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a second.
It's like a grain of sand Swelling to larger than the sun faster than the speed of light.
Well, have we violated einstein's laws? Nothing can go faster than the speed of light.
And here is one of the real subtle points about the big bang.
Space can expand so much that two objects appear to move apart Faster than the speed of light.
But they're not moving.
It's the space in between them that's growing.
Guth's audacious idea, the inflationary universe, Could push the limit of our understanding back To the very first moments of the very first second.
But how could we ever test it? How could we peer into the birth of creation? Tv static holds a clue.
Comes from light from the big bang.
In 1964, astronomers arno penzias and robert wilson Were listening to radio signals from space.
But in every direction, They were picking up a background hum.
Puzzled by the hum, they suspected they knew the culprit And swept the entire receiver free of pigeon dropping, But to no avail.
If anything, the background got even greater.
And according to legend, When they gave a talk at princeton, One physicist raised his hand and says, "Either you are listening to the effects of bird dropping Or the creation of the universe.
" What penzias and wilson had stumbled upon Was the afterglow of the fireball Created by the big bang.
As the universe expanded, it cooled.
After a few hundred thousand years, It was just protons and electrons flying around.
But at some point, the universe cooled enough That when an electron and proton got together All over the universe, essentially all at once, The universe became transparent.
Think of a gigantic fog that suddenly lifts.
Before the fog lifts, You can only see a few feet in front of you.
Then suddenly everything becomes clear.
That's what happened 380,000 years after the big bang.
Ever since that moment, after the big bang, This light has traveled uninterrupted through space.
Scientists call it the cosmic microwave background.
If you were to write down a handful Of the greatest scientific discoveries of all time, One of them might be the discovery of dna.
Another one might be The discovery of a cosmic microwave background.
That's how big this discovery was.
The cosmic microwave background First lit up the universe after the big bang.
But it bears the imprint of a time much earlier than that, A time when inflation was transforming the cosmos.
If the secrets to inflation are anywhere, they're hidden here.
Scientists needed to take a closer look.
The infant universe Is 1 trillion trillion trillionths of a second old.
It abruptly inflates in the greatest growth spurt in history.
And the universe expands faster than the speed of light.
The secrets to this expansion Are hidden in the cosmic microwave background, The first-Ever light to shine through the cosmos.
To reveal these secrets, Scientists need the best picture of this light they can get.
Ignition.
Lift-Off.
May 2009, the european space agency Launches the planck satellite.
It orbits the sun, Scanning the temperature of the entire visible universe.
It's so sensitive, it can measure the temperature Of the cosmic microwave background To within a millionth of a degree.
The blue spots in the map are cold spots.
They would evolve and become large empty voids.
The red spots in the map, those are hot spots.
They're gonna form clusters of galaxies.
This map is a blueprint For how our universe is gonna form and evolve.
When we look at this map, we're also looking back in time And seeing the echoes of creation.
The tiny variations measured by planck Go on to form the galaxies that fill the universe.
And inflation explains them perfectly.
But scientists need a smoking gun, Something out of science fiction gravitational waves.
One of the tests is that we might be able to see The gravity waves that were produced At the very end of inflation.
Gravitational waves stretch and contract spacetime itself.
They travel through the universe like ripples in a pond.
Scientists believe that the violence of inflation Sent these waves reverberating throughout the cosmos.
If we could see them, it would be case closed.
Scientists would know that inflation was real.
March 2014, came up with inflation, A telescope at the south pole shakes the world.
Today, scientists announce they have discovered What was going on in the earliest moments of our universe Right after the big bang.
This is the most exciting scientific result Of my career.
Inflation was an incredibly violent process, Different parts of the universe All expanding at somewhat different rates, But all faster than the speed of light.
And this difference in expansion rate Produced gravitational waves.
And these gravitational waves Produced a signature on the microwave sky That we've now seen.
It's something i am so happy that's happened in my lifetime.
The data is an almost perfect fit for inflation.
What we're finding Is that the very simplest models of inflation Are agreeing beautifully With what observations are being made.
And that's incredibly gratifying And provides, i think, very strong evidence That inflation really happened.
Inflation explains why galaxies Are spread so smoothly across the cosmos.
In the tiniest fraction of a second, It transforms a minute and uniform bit of space Into the entire visible universe.
And the implications are stunning.
Maybe it wasn't just the visible universe That grew under inflation.
Some scientists now believe that other regions of space, Too distant for their light to ever reach us, Underwent inflation, too, and are still inflating now.
One of the profound things about inflation is once it starts, It's hard to stop it.
Inflation never stops everywhere.
It stops in places.
And every place where it stops, one produces a universe.
Inflation seems to go on Producing other pocket universes, literally forever.
Indeed, inflation makes our big bang And then goes on and makes lots of other big bangs And creates this big collection of universes, the multiverse.
Our universe may be just one Of an infinite collection of universes in a multiverse Much, much larger than we ever imagined.
And some scientists argue That not only are there multiple universes out there, They think every possible universe must exist.
People, identical to us, Would live out every possible parallel life In every possible parallel world a mind-Blowing outcome.
Now that we have such strong evidence for inflation, It's time to take ideas like the multiverse really seriously.
Let's reset.
The universe is less than a trillionth of a trillionth of a second old, And the seeds of its galaxies have already been sown.
But everything is still pure energy.
So where does all the matter, The stuff of stars and you and me, come from? We're on a journey through the first second of time.
The universe is a trillionth Of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second old.
The temperature is a thousand trillion trillion degrees.
The infant universe inflates far faster than the speed of light, Pumping vast amounts of energy into space.
But the cosmos is still just the size of a baseball.
Inflation says that, for a brief period, empty space gets energy.
And it turns out the universe keeps dumping energy into space To produce everything we see.
And so, apparently you produce an incredible amount of stuff From nothing without violating the laws of physics.
It's almost magic, but that's the keyword, almost.
It's allowed by the laws of physics.
As inflation ends, the brightest flash in history Floods the cosmos with radiation.
During the first second of the universe, It was unimaginably hot and dense.
It was basically a ball of energy.
It's not a place you'd want to stand in.
You'd vaporize pretty quickly.
Everything's zipping 'round at the speed of light.
This universe full of radiation Is nothing like our universe today, Full of stuff, material stuff.
Because it was so hot, atoms didn't exist.
Matter as we know, it didn't exist.
The universe was a dense soup of radiation.
The earliest universe is a chaos of pure energy.
But how does it transform into a universe full of matter? To answer that question, we have to turn to einstein And a very famous equation e=mc squared.
Before einstein, people said "matter is matter, Energy is energy, and never the twain shall meet.
" Along comes einstein and says, "not so fast.
They really are the same thing.
" Einstein realized that matter is just concentrated energy.
This insight transformed our understanding of the universe And allowed us to unleash devastating destruction in atomic bombs.
Energy, "e," that can turn into "m," matter, and vice versa.
Even a small teaspoon of matter would be enough To unleash the power of hundreds of hydrogen bombs.
While atom bombs convert matter into energy, In the big bang, energy starts to turn into matter.
But it's nothing like the matter that makes up the world we live in.
So what does this primal matter look like? This is brookhaven national laboratory in long island, Home to the relativistic heavy ion collider, or rhic for short.
Here, they re-Create the matter That filled the embryonic universe One-Millionth of a second after the big bang.
In a sense, rhic really is a time machine.
We're reproducing the conditions That existed in the early universe On the order of one microsecond after the big bang.
Rhic fires gold nuclei around a 2 1/2-Mile circular tunnel at almost the speed of light.
Then it smashes them together in the giant star detector.
Imagine smashing two cars together in a head-On collision And working out what the cars looked like By analyzing the debris thrown off.
That's what the team at rhic is doing.
They're hunting for the building blocks of protons By smashing them to pieces.
Each collision that you see here, You can see that they're different.
Some collisions have more tracks coming out of them.
The curved lines represent In fact, they are the particles that come out of the collision.
And you can see each collision Generates a different number of particles Depending on the violence of the collision.
What mike and his team see is a spray Of the most fundamental particles of all quarks.
Quarks are normally bound inside protons and neutrons.
But give quarks enough energy, and they break free.
We expected these quarks, Once they're liberated from the protons and neutrons, Not to interact much with each other, Just to stream out into our detector.
What we found was the most perfect fluid That was ever discovered, ever measured on the planet.
So it actually flows much more easily than water does.
This was absolutely surprising.
And rhic shows us That the perfect fluid of elementary particles Occurs at just one-Millionth of a second into the big bang.
But, like everything in the first second, It doesn't last for long.
As the universe expands, it cools.
And something called the strong force makes its presence felt.
The most important characteristic of the strong force Is the confinement of quarks inside protons and neutrons That we see as today.
When the temperature of the universe Drops to 2 trillion degrees, The strong force clumps quarks together in groups of three, Making protons and neutrons, the building blocks of atoms.
The universe begins to take the form we know today.
But as matter is bursting into existence All across the universe, there's still something missing.
Somehow this matter has no mass.
The universe is hurtling through its first second of existence.
It begins a hundred billion billion times Smaller than a proton.
After surging through a burst of expansion, called inflation, Faster than the speed of light, the entire cosmos Has grown to about the size of our solar system.
And matter is bursting into existence.
But this matter is strange.
It has no mass.
The matter in today's universe has mass.
On earth, we feel it as weight.
In space, objects can feel weightless, But they still have mass.
If this astronaut had no mass, he'd be in big trouble.
You can't actually slow something down If it doesn't have any mass.
If somebody doesn't have any mass, It has to move at the speed of light.
There's no way of stopping it.
So a universe that's full of matter But matter which has no mass Is one in which it just looks like a big ball of light.
The early universe had no mass, Just elementary particles fizzing at the speed of light.
But today, our universe is full of planets and stars That clearly have mass.
So where does this mass come from? Apparently there's some field That permeates the entire universe, And different elementary particles Will interact with it in different ways.
And it's the interaction of the particle with the field That gives the particle its property that we call mass.
Scientists call it the higgs field, after peter higgs, One of the first scientists to propose it in the 1960s.
The higgs field is invisible.
It stretches throughout space and is accompanied By a fundamental particle called the higgs boson, Which interacts with particles of ordinary matter As they pass through the field.
The more an object interacts with the higgs field, The more mass it gains.
Without the higgs field and the higgs boson, there is no mass.
The higgs field is a beautiful idea.
But does it really exist? There's only one place to find out At the biggest and most advanced machine ever built, The large hadron collider at cern.
Joe incandela hopes to prove the field exists By smashing the higgs boson out of the shadows.
So i actually need all of you, including the cameraman, To go through when the other door is open.
Just go all the way through.
There you go.
We're going down 90 meters, Which is about 300 feet, about 25 stories.
Took a couple years actually to engineer the layout Of just the cables.
There's enough cables to go from here to moscow.
And this takes us to the detector itself.
So here we are.
Like something out of a james bond film.
Only this is real.
The lhc fires two beams of protons Around a 17-Mile concrete-Lined tunnel, Which collide at the highest energies ever created by man.
It's equivalent to shooting knitting needles From either side of the atlantic And having them hit head-On in the middle.
The collisions shatter the protons Into a spray of new particles, Including, perhaps, the higgs boson.
Joe's team of 3,800 scientists spend 5 years Searching for the trail of particles The higgs should leave in its wake.
On march 14, 2013, lhc delivers.
It was an electric atmosphere.
I mean, the 20-Year-Old physicists had camped out Overnight in the hallways to get good seats in the lecture hall.
And the 80-Year-Old physicists, Who had invented the idea back in the '60s, They were flown in from all over the world.
And, you know, secrecy was important, So it was, like, this is the one seminar You're not gonna want to miss in your lifetime.
I think we have it.
The discovery of the higgs boson Is one of the final keys to our understanding of the big bang.
It was a very emotional moment.
I mean, people got choked up.
Thanks to peter higgs And the efforts of scientists around the world, We understand the key moments of the first second.
We now have all the building blocks to make the universe.
A thousand years from now, when they're writing the textbooks, They will remember the moment when we found the higgs boson.
All the matter around us, All the human beings and all the people, All the stars and the planets in the sky And the higgs boson was the missing piece.
That's what really makes it get up and go.
Without this higgs' mechanism, the higgs field, That formation of mass, we'd have no atoms.
Without atoms, there's no structure.
We're not here.
That's where this other name for this particle came from, As a god particle in a sense.
We would not exist without it.
Stars, planets, and people would be impossible Without the higgs field and the higgs boson.
But these new discoveries may be responsible For much more than keeping our feet on the ground.
When the higgs field pops into existence During the first second of the universe, Some scientists believe it may have triggered The splitting of the super force.
Without the higgs boson, we can't exist.
And we think that a series of higgs bosons were responsible For breaking the symmetries of the super force So that the four forces could emerge.
That's why when we found the higgs boson, Champagne bottles were being opened up In all the physics laboratories.
And we were all having a grand party.
Nearing the end of the first second, Two final forces split off.
Without the weak nuclear force, the stars would not shine.
The electromagnetic force is the force That governs almost everything that we do, Even the chemistry of our own bodies.
The weak nuclear force and the electromagnetic force Now stand alongside the strong nuclear force and gravity To shape the universe we live in.
With these four forces, We have a universe that can create our home.
The laws of physics which govern our universe Are, at heart, these fundamental forces.
These forces drive the evolution of the universe.
We're nearing the end of the universe's first second.
The cosmos, now an inferno of radiation and matter, Has given birth to the four fundamental forces of nature.
But before the first star has a chance to shine, A mysterious form of matter threatens to destroy it all.
The first second, The most important second in the history of the universe, Is nearly over.
The universe is now A fireball of light and matter.
But an almighty battle begins to rock the cosmos.
Fundamental particles, the building blocks of atoms, Fill the early universe.
But they must survive a war, A war whose outcome will determine our future Because matter has an evil twin, antimatter.
And the two are mortal enemies.
In many ways, they're opposites of each other.
And what that means is, if you take a lump of matter And a similar lump of antimatter and slam them together, They will be totally converted into energy.
And according to einstein's e=mc squared, It's a lot of energy.
Matter and antimatter simply cannot co-Exist.
They annihilate each other on contact.
This cosmic carnage rages as billions of times more matter Than we see today simply disappears As matter and antimatter collide.
The fate of the universe hangs in the balance.
You have to understand the universe shouldn't be here.
It should have been half antimatter and half matter, And we should have all annihilated.
We do not understand why we even exist.
At the end of this epic war, Matter wins out by the slimmest of margins.
But why? The question is, why in the universe, as we see it, There are so many more particles than antiparticles? The galaxies and the stars that we see in the sky, These are all made of matter.
They are not made of antimatter.
Somehow, the balance between matter and antimatter Was slightly skewed from the beginning.
For every billion particles of matter and antimatter That were being created by energy, One extra particle of matter And that very small asymmetry of one part in a billion Is enough to account for all the galaxies and stars We see in the universe today.
Could things have turned out differently? What if antimatter had won the war? If antimatter had won instead of matter, The universe would probably look the same today.
In fact, you know what? We'd be made of antimatter, and we'd call it matter.
Anti-Lovers could sit in cars, anti-Cars, Looking at anti-Moons, making anti-Love, And it would all seem exactly the same.
So why was there more matter than antimatter? Why was the universe built out of balance? Professor tara shears at the large hadron collider Wants to find out.
What we're really interested in Is how different the amounts of matter and antimatter are And whether they match up to our understanding Of how different matter and antimatter should be Because that's what we don't understand.
The lhc results show That the difference between antimatter and matter Is smaller than expected.
To explain why, scientists need to know What tips the scales in matter's favor.
I really hope that we're gonna make a measurement here sometime In the future which is going to just show us the light, Show us what else there is out there in the universe That's going to make it all make sense.
We still don't completely understand The first second of the cosmos.
But the fact that we know so much already Speaks volumes about the determination and ingenuity of our scientists.
As a civilization, we are extending our understanding Of where we are in the universe.
And that's extremely important.
This is why we really love doing what we do.
The first second is over.
The universe already contains everything we see today.
What we understand from the first second tells us a lot About what's gonna happen for a long time after that.
The first second of the universe Is amazing in its potential.
Here, we had a universe with just these fundamental forces And these very elementary constituents of matter.
And what would they yield? They would yield an entire universe.
They would yield the works of shakespeare And the music of 50 cent.
We have gone so much further Than anyone believed we could have.
And i don't see why the origin of the universe Will be any different.
It might take 5 years.
It might take 500 years.
But i really believe that one day We will understand mathematically How our universe began.
In the next few minutes, The universe cools enough for protons and neutrons To form the first atomic nuclei.
Another 380,000 years must pass before the first atom appears.
In hundreds of millions of years, Those atoms clump to form the first stars and galaxies, Like the milky way.
More than 9 billion years after the big bang, Our sun and our planet, earth, is born their fate sealed in the first second of the big bang.