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Experiments Mimic Infant Universe in Superfluid Helium

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Science  02 Aug 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5275, pp. 576-577
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5275.576


Flasks of liquid helium have yielded evidence for one of cosmologists' more esoteric notions: that infinite stringlike fractures appeared in the fabric of space-time as the early universe began to cool and might have seeded the formation of the galaxies and larger scale structures we see today. Two international teams report that they have measured the rate at which strings form in the helium as it undergoes a phase transition between the normal and superfluid states—a transition thought to be analogous to ones that took place in the early universe. The results match theoretical predictions for what might have occurred in the early universe.