An international team of physicists has developed an out-of-the-box theory that shortly after it popped into existence 13.8 billion years ago the universe was filled with knots formed from flexible strands of energy called flux tubes that link elementary particles together.
For a new solution to this puzzle, the five co-authors – physics professors Arjun Berera at the University of Edinburgh, Roman Buniy at Chapman University, Heinrich Päs at the University of Dortmund, João Rosa at the University of Aveiro and Thomas Kephart at Vanderbilt University – took a common element from the standard model of particle physics and mixed it with a little basic knot theory to produce a novel scenario that not only can explain the predominance of three dimensions but also provides a natural power source for the inflationary growth spurt that most cosmologists believe the universe went through microseconds after it burst into existence.
In discussions at the workshop, the group became intrigued by the possibility that flux tubes could have played a key role in the initial formation of the universe.
Kephart and his collaborators realized that a higher energy version of the quark-gluon plasma would have been an ideal environment for flux tube formation in the very early universe.
Stable flux tubes are also created when two or more flux tubes become interlinked.
Since the idea of cosmic inflation was introduced in the early 1980s, cosmologists have generally accepted the proposition that the early universe went through a period when it expanded from the size of a proton to the size of a grapefruit in less than a trillionth of a second.
When the network broke down, it filled the universe with a gas of subatomic particles and radiation, allowing the evolution of the universe to continue along the lines that have previously been determined.