Big Bang query: Mapping how a mysterious liquid became all matter

The leading theory about how the universe began is the Big Bang, which says that 14 billion years ago the universe existed as a singularity, a one-dimensional point, with a vast array of fundamental particles contained within it. Extremely high heat and energy caused it to inflate and then expand into the cosmos as we know it—and, the expansion continues to this day.

The initial result of the Big Bang was an intensely hot and energetic liquid that existed for mere microseconds that was around 10 billion degrees Fahrenheit (5.5 billion Celsius). This liquid contained nothing less than the building blocks of all matter. As the universe cooled, the particles decayed or combined giving rise to… well, everything.

Quark-gluon plasma (QGP) is the name for this mysterious substance so called because it was made up of quarks—the fundamental particles—and gluons, which physicist Rosi J. Reed describes as “what quarks use to talk to each other.”…