In the 1950's and 1960's, high-energy and cosmic-ray physics developed into two different fields. However, in the last twenty years they have come together in a most peculiar way. As space physicists explored the sources and mechanisms for producing cosmic rays, they also realized that it was impossible to measure the dynamics of the early universe (i.e., the first 400,000 years). It is here that particle physics provides a laboratory environment to study the physical processes that occurred in the early universe, a region that cannot be explored directly with the tools of astrophysics. Particle physicists continue to build accelerators with increasing energy densities that simulate the early universe at times less than a millisecond after the "Big Bang." This area of research will investigate how particle physics and astrophysics combine to give us a consistent view of the early universe.
Dr. Darrel Smith specializes in neutrino physics.
With his eyes on all things astro, Dr. Brennan Hughey is doing ground-breaking research.