The Big Bang is a big deal in the world of theoretical physics, but it’s what came immediately after that intrigues Jamal Jalilian-Marian, PhD, and Adrian Dumitru, PhD. The two professors in the Department of Natural Sciences at Baruch’s Weissman School of Arts and Sciences were recently awarded a $400,000 grant from the United States Department of Energy (DOE) to advance understanding of the conditions that may have existed in the early history of the universe, a few microseconds after the Big Bang.

“The goal of researching the fundamental laws of nature is to better understand the universe we live in,” Dumitru says.

The two-year grant, funded by the DOE’s Nuclear Physics Program, will also help support the work of two graduate students. The funding is a continuation of a previous grant in support of their research, whose current working title is “High-Energy Quantum Chromodynamics in Heavy Ion Collisions.” So far, the pair have received a total of about $1.75 million in funding from the DOE in furtherance of their work.

Professors Dumitru and Jalilian-Marian are long-time colleagues at Baruch, having joined the faculty in 2008 and 2006, respectively. As theoretical physicists, they develop models and theories to interpret experimental data obtained from premier particle accelerators, including the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland and the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, New York. These specialized research sites can help physicists simulate and even recreate certain events that occurred in the early universe.

Ultimately, Dumitru and Jalilian-Marian hope to make predictions for the outcome of future experiments that will take place at the Electron-Ion Collider, a new, unique facility currently approved for development at the Brookhaven National Lab. Their efforts will contribute to a better understanding of the extreme limits of quantum chromodynamics and the structure and behavior of subatomic particles at high energies, clarifying the picture of how the universe is put together and adding to the knowledge of the properties and potential of energy sources.  

—Sally Fay

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