SCIENCE
08/14/2012 05:24 pm ET Updated Feb 25, 2013

Hottest Temperature Ever Made By Humans? 'Subatomic Soup' Is About 9.9 Trillion Degrees, CERN Scientists Speculate

The Large Hadron Collider scientists at CERN claim to have created the hottest man-made temperature ever from smashing together lead ions to create a sizzling hot 'subatomic soup'; a plasma comprised of quarks and gluons. The final measurement could end up at about 5.5 trillion degrees Celsius (9.9 trillion degrees Fahrenheit). That's hot.

The physicists presented their findings Monday at the Quark Matter 2012 International Conference in Washington D.C., Nature reported.

Physicists for years have been aiming to better understand what the universe was like in its early, early infancy -- and researchers suggest such secrets are hidden in hot, hot temperatures like the 'soup' the CERN scientists have created.

"We do have now the tools in place to really experiment with it," Jurgen Schukraft, a physicist at the CERN physics lab in Geneva, told LiveScience, "and figure out precisely what kind of stuff this really is and why it has these extraordinary properties."

A super-hot soup of similar proportions has been studied before. Scientists at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York were recently awarded the Guinness World Record for reaching a record-breaking 4 trillion degrees Celsius (7.2 trillion degrees Fahrenheit) inside the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC).

"We seek to explore the subtle interplay of particles and forces that transformed the QGP [quark-gluon plasma] of the early universe into the matter that makes up our world today," Samuel Aronson, director of Brookhaven National Laboratory, said in a written statement.

Two experiments at the RHIC are actually working with collisions of gold ions to map out the way in which a quark–gluon plasma morphs into a normal gas made of hadrons, according to Nature.

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