The creation of the universe, matter & subatomic particles

Dr Irengbam Mohendra Singh *

Nothing existed forever.

Nat "King" Cole set a gold standard for smooth jazz singing with his baritone voice in his "Unforgettable/Unforgettable/that's what you lire ... in 1951. All the evidence seems to indicate, that the universe has not existed forever. It had a beginning, about 15 billion years ago.

Stephen Hawking, in a lecture in Japan, said "the universe has not existed forever. Rather, the universe, and time itself, had a beginning in the Big Bang, about 15 billion years ago. The beginning of real time, would have been a singularity." Singularity in physics, means a one-dimensional point that contains a huge mass in an infinitely small space, where density and gravity becomes infinite and space-time curves infinitely, and where the laws of physics do not operate.

Hawking continued: "time must have a beginning if Einstein's General Theory of relativity is correct. But one might raise the question, of whether General Relativity really is correct. We know that General Relativity cannot be quite correct on very small distances though It certainly agrees with all the observational tests that have been carried out over large distances."

The beginning of the Universe as the Big Bang is now agreed by most scientists, but what was before the Big Bang is still unanswered. The creation of the Universe after the Big Bang explosion is more or less explained by physicists. It happened very quickly in the first few fractions of a second, when the universe was filled with an intensely "hot soup of energy and particles" that formed the matter.

The Big Bang theory is the only theory that can explain the presence of Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR). Inversely, it support the Big Bang, and the theory of 'cosmic inflation' - the theory that universe expanded much faster than the speed of light, just in a few tiny fractions of a second after the Big Bang.

How the expanding Universe began to accelerate after the Big Bang was captured by the Hubble telescope. Theoretically, we can conceptualise that if we stop the expanding universe at a single point of time and rewind, it will merge into an infinitely small point, smaller than an atom.

With modem telescopes, scientists can view objects many billions of light years away, close to the time of the Big Bang. They can work out how the Big Bang explosion occurred mathematically, 15 billion years ago, by calculation from the size of the universe and the speed with which it is expanding. They can see how 'galaxies' - those fuzzy patches in the sky, move away at very high speeds, because of an effect called "red-shift", a concept for astronomers to mean that the light is seen as 'shifted' towards the red part of the spectrum.

In 1964, two American radio astronomers, Amo Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered leftover and cooled down radiation from early in the history of Universe. For this they won Nobel prize in physics in 1978. These radiations are coming uniformly from every direction in space, which scientists interpret to be the remnant of the incredibly bright light after the Big Bang, and which began to stretch as it expanded. This is now known as microwaves. A microwave telescope can see this ancient light that fills the whole sky with a glow, day and night.

CMBR is the oldest and coldest light in the universe. It shines primarily in the microwave portion of the electromagnetic spectrum and is invisible to the naked eye. Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic radiation, smaller than radio waves but bigger than infrared waves. They are good for transmitting information, such as mobile phone calls, radio and television broadcasting, and for conducting thermal energy to heat food quickly (microwave ovens).

Yet, fundamental physicists are still unable to solve the mystery of how this infinitesimally small, dense and hot point took the initial form as it did. But they can explain what happened after the Big Bang. A British physicist Prof Brian Cox describes how, as a consequence of the Big Bang, subatomic and atomic particles, and matter came to exist in our universe. In modem physics, 'particles' are not like grains of rice as we perceived but like 'ripples' in the quantum field.

Cox begins with a few theoretically motivated events in modem physics as to how such building blocks of our universe, which are fundamentally hydrogen and helium emerged. The Higgs boson, nick-named 'God particle', discovered at CERN's Large Hadron Collider in Geneva (cf. Author's book Points to Ponder p319) further seals the.Big Bang theory. In quantum physics, it was Higgs-like particles that sparked the cosmic explosion. Everything in the universe owes its existence to the Higgs boson.

Cox introduces the first milestone in the formation of the universe after the Big Bang, known as the 'Planck Era'. This is the period occurring mathematically, in 1043 (10 raised to the power 43) seconds after the Big Bang. Written in full, the number has 42 decimal places:

Scientists could count the time, simply because it's related to the strength of the gravitational force. At that time, the four fundamental forces of nature that we know ie gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces, were one and the same force, known as "superforce". There was no matter at this stage, only energy and superforce. This is what physicists call a 'very symmetrical situation'.

Symmetry is the most powerful tool of theoretical physics, as it has become evident that all laws of nature originate in symmetries. The physical laws remain valid at all places and times in the universe, and particles such as atoms remain unchanged after being subjected to a variety of symmetry transformations.

As the universe rapidly expanded and cooled, it underwent a series of spontaneous 'symmetry-breaking' events. This symmetry-breaking is a phenomenon, which usually brings a system from symmetric but disorderly state into one or more definite states (PW Anderson 1972). It's called the Planck Era as mentioned above. The end of the Planck Era saw gravity separate form other forces of nature, and so perfect symmetry was broken.

After the Plank Era, another symmetry-breaking event occurred, which ended at 10'36 seconds, known as the 'Grand Unification Era'. In this era, the 'strong nuclear force' that sticks the quarks together inside protons and neutrons, separated from the other fundamental forces. It's followed by the 'Inflationary Era' when the Universe had a violent expansion known as 'inflation', by a factor of 1026 seconds ie 100 million million times in an unimaginably small space of time, finishing in 10-32 seconds. This was when subatomic particles entered the Universe and none of them had any mass at all.

Physicists are now entering into an era when they are recreating and observing such a symmetry-breaking event at CERN's Large Hadron Collider. This is the great symmetry-breaking event that occurred 10" after the Big Bang. It's called the "electroweak symmetry-breaking event".

At this point, the final two forces of nature - electromagnetism and the weak nuclear force are separated. During this process the subatomic building blocks of everything, such as quarks and electrons acquired mass. The most popular theory of this mechanism is called the Higgs mechanism.

From this point onwards, physicists can know pretty much exactly what happened to the Universe by means of experiments at particle accelerators. They believe the emergence of familiar particles and forces we see in the Universe today happened because of a series of symmetry-breaking events, which began way back at the end of the Planck Era.

The concept of spontaneous symmetry-breaking in the early Planck Era of the Universe, according to Cox, is the same as transitions from water vapour to liquid water to complex snowflakes that hide the underlying simple symmetry of oxygen and hydrogen atoms, as I wrote in a previous article about snowflakes. The complex patterns of the Universe that emerged without prompting, due to falling temperature, obscure the underlying symmetry of the Universe in its initial state.

When the universe had cooled enough, the quarks appeared approximately 10"12 seconds after the Big Bang. It was when the preceding electroweak epoch ended as the electroweak interaction separated into the weak interaction and, electromagnetism. The quarks began to glue together with by, the string nuclear force to form protons and neutrons, known as hadrons, the building blocks of elements. Protons are made of 3 quarks. Quarks along with leptons, such electrons, muons or neutrinos are fundamental point-particles and are themselves made of energy.

So, after only a millionth of a second in the life of the' universe, the first and the simplest chemical element hydrogen '. consisting of a single proton made its appearance. After three, minutes the universe was cold enough for the two protons' and one or two neutrons to stick together to form the nucleus, of helium, second-simplest chemical element. There were also very small amounts of lithium with three protons, and beryllium with four protons.

After three minutes the universe had the four distinct forces we know today: gravity, the strong and weak nuclear forces, and electromagnetism. The universe was then composed of roughly 75% hydrogen (by mass) and 25% helium. After that epoch no elements were created for millions of years. Today the whole universe is made up of 92 elements.

* Dr Irengbam Mohendra Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is based in the UK: Email: irengbammsingh(AT)gmail(DOT)com . Website :
This article was webcasted on January 04, 2018.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Women's Polo Tournament #2 : Gallery
  • Kanglei Lyrics :: Android Apps
  • Emoinu Khoiramba @Koubru #3: Gallery
  • Driver's Day observation : Gallery
  • HC to revive Human Rights Commission
  • Walk-in-interview at Mizoram University
  • CBI should not do interference..
  • TSA Gunpi Block installed
  • Nagaland Election: another truth of IM
  • Highlighting stand to Rajnath Singh
  • NE youths know India better than most
  • Naga Hoho determined to boycott Polls
  • Myanmar stretch used by militants identified
  • Kachai Lemon Fest @Ukhrul #1: Gallery
  • Gaan Ngai @ Ragailong #1 : Gallery
  • Kachai Village: An Abode of finest Lemons
  • Cry Of A Dying River...14 :: Poem
  • Conflict: A pre-requisite or stumbling block
  • How was the sun formed & emit light
  • Training & placement by Jettwings
  • The Killing Fields :: News Timeline
  • Rohingya Crisis: Lecture at Indonesia
  • The haunting shadows
  • Announcing poll date for Nagaland
  • Women's Polo Tournament #1 : Gallery
  • Fashion Show: 'Handloom' #2 : Gallery
  • Reporting in Conflict Situation #1
  • Treatment schemes of RIMS, Lamphel
  • Home remedies for skin pigmentation
  • NE Chapter of ICSI inaugurated
  • Media credibility matter to uphold its sanctity
  • Setting down Jan 31 deadline : SC
  • Tangkhul Zingtun Longphang #1: Gallery
  • Wungramphy, Khamgonpou: eMing
  • NEROCA FC Vs Indian Arrows #3 : Gallery
  • Career option in Human Rights
  • Water conflicts over the Brahmaputra
  • PAC against Killing of Pravish: 17 Jan
  • Neiphiu Rio resigns from NPF
  • NPF-BJP Relationship : NPF clarifies
  • Consolidating the sporting heritage
  • Rising air and noise pollution
  • Kukis have equal right... : Neiphiu Rio
  • Rajnath reviews security in NE
  • Lafoi Shamda puthorkpa #2 : Gallery
  • Sangai Fest: Commercial Stalls #3: Gallery
  • The joy of living :: Poem
  • Bamboo a tree or grass ?
  • SELF Workshop on Leadership & Fulfilment
  • Fight against corruption; we need Lokayukta
  • Hailing the role of drivers
  • Nangna Helli Nungshiba #2 :: eRang
  • Pung Chollom : Gallery
  • Wakhal Seireng :: Book Review
  • Imphal Jamboree by Global Shapers
  • Importance of regular health check-ups
  • Meetei demand for ST is Constitutional.. #2
  • Weapon Display organized at Moreh
  • Ex-Servicemen Rally organized
  • AR helps Orphanage & Old Age Home
  • Search of comprehensive culture & identity
  • List of MLA (Jan 2018) #1 : Gallery
  • Manipur Gas Today :: Android App
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #3: Gallery
  • GNRC media fellowship announced
  • The Meiteis- Festival & celebration maniacs
  • How to make bridal mehndi long lasting
  • Governor's attention drawn to RIMS
  • Scientist develops prototype of electric car
  • Stereotypes about NE make people living..
  • Light Show at Loktak Lake #5 : Gallery
  • Candlelight vigil for Pravish : Gallery
  • Imbroglio of ethnic identity of Ranglong
  • Foundation For Excellence scholarship
  • Time Table - Class XII Exam 2018
  • Mail spoofing- Trickery by deception
  • Trial by fire
  • Call for solution before election
  • Villagers along Myanmar border get pass
  • Meetei Chanu 2017 #3 : Gallery
  • Art and Artist, A Creative Space
  • NEROCA FC Vs Indian Arrows #2 : Gallery
  • Ode to Thy Mellow Light :: Poem
  • Xmas with Meitei eche at Phaijol
  • Time Table - Class XI Exam 2018
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • IMC , now another hurdle to traffic mgmt
  • Setting aside two days for the people
  • Maring: Kummui Chaa-um : Gallery
  • Miss Manipur 2017 #5 : Gallery
  • Statehood Day Women's Polo Tournament
  • Time Table - HSLC Exam 2018
  • Bananas: Beauty's best friend
  • DPC for Follower at Manipur Police
  • Job Openings at JCRE Skill Solutions
  • The lost treasure
  • Nagas' Interests : Stand of NPF MSU
  • Nagaland polls on schedule: HM
  • Mukna Kangjei Tournament #2: Gallery
  • Keisham Manihar : Natyabhusan(Leela)
  • World Tourism Day #3: Gallery
  • Responsibility of protecting the environment
  • Phishing vs Vishing: The Verbal Challenge
  • BNHS Bi-monthly Program for Jan-Feb
  • Managing weight for preventing diabetes
  • Making democracy peoples' participatory
  • Progressing from media to SC
  • Manipur to set up modern food lab
  • Gaan Ngai @ Kakhulong Khun: Gallery
  • A trip to Moreh #2 : Gallery
  • How long catchy slogans keep hopes alive
  • Recycling of hospital waste-water
  • I am sometime or somewhere : Poem
  • Angami Zapu Phizo's Surreal 2017 AD
  • Film "Legacy Of King Narak" awarded
  • Of PM and our CM
  • Patronising the killing machines ?
  • Deferment of polls unlikely: Ravi
  • PM may visit Manipur in March
  • Emoinu Khoiramba @Koubru #2: Gallery
  • NEROCA FC Vs East Bengal #2: Gallery
  • Transform Colleges into Innovation Centres
  • New Delhi: World Book Fair 2018 :: Review
  • Cry Of A Dying River...12 :: Poem
  • Workshop on National Pension for NE
  • Law enforcers action - Well & good
  • Final pact yet to see light of day
  • Cold wave hits Manipur
  • Take out the cymbals, Manoharsai to stay
  • Indo-Naga Peace Process :: Articles
  • MaiOn - Scenes #2 :: eRang
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #2: Gallery
  • Miss Manipur 2017 #4 : Gallery
  • Is Global Warming Natural or Anthropogenic
  • Prof Gangmumei Kamei: Legendary hero
  • Common Education System rally organized
  • DAMMS launched 2018 calendar
  • Chorus for 'Solution Not Election'
  • NEROCA FC Vs Indian Arrows #1 : Gallery
  • Gaan Ngai @Moirangkhom : Gallery
  • I was born healthy, I wanna die healthy
  • Practice peace & change the life
  • TSA Moreh Block installed
  • Cycle Rally: common education system
  • Ethics, medical profession & soaring fees
  • Meetei Chanu 2017 #2 : Gallery
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Meira rally for Pravish : Gallery
  • Accelerate momentum to endTB for SDGs
  • The call that can't be turned down
  • Live@MDU: New act with same old vibes
  • 1st Centre of Excellence- Electronics Skill
  • LED Lights installed by Loktak Station
  • NE tragedy: Policy failures & influx
  • Angaoba - Scenes #3 :: eRang
  • 51st Mr Manipur Contest 2017 #3 : Gallery
  • Result: Manipur Sangai Intl Digital salon
  • Use Swachhata App to Make Imphal No. 1
  • Career @ events and celebration
  • Night nourishing
  • Indo-Nepal Friendship: 25 yrs of Don Bosco
  • Understanding the indices of life
  • Poppy cultivation & drug cartels
  • Emoinu Khoiramba @Koubru #1: Gallery
  • Day 10: Closing of Sangai Fest #4 : Gallery
  • The creation of the universe, matter...
  • Mumbai: The city of dreams
  • Let this new year kill your new fears
  • Asian Waterbird Census: Count waterbirds
  • Looking for a better inclusive alternative
  • Coaching & commercialisation of education
  • New Year picnic @ Singda Dam : Gallery
  • Miss Manipur 2017 #3 : Gallery
  • Despite Stolen Dreams :: Book Rvw
  • Handloom Training @Hojai : Gallery
  • World Tourism Day #2: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Front Page Photo #6: Gallery
  • Calendar for the Year 2018 :: e-pao Tools
  • 51st Mr Manipur Contest 2017 #2 : Gallery
  • Crowd @ Flower Festival @Mao #4: Gallery
  • Kwatha (Indo-Myanmar Border) #2: Gallery
  • Flower Festival @ Mao #3 : Gallery
  • Restricted Holidays 2018 : Govt of Manipur
  • Lourembam Bedabati : Sangeetbhusan
  • List of RIST popular talks during 2014-2017
  • Christmas eve @ CCpur #2 : Gallery
  • Public Holidays 2018 : Govt of Manipur
  • Pui Thangamliu #2 :: eRang
  • Royal Crematorium at Bangkok #2 : Gallery
  • General Holidays 2018 : Govt of Manipur
  • Manipur Sangai Festival 2016 #7 : Ooba
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2018 : Download it
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic