provided a more detailed description of the first moments after the Big Bang. They also helped totell the story of the formation of galaxies which will be discussed in the next chapter.The Big Bang theory provides a viable solution to one of the most pressing questions of all time.It is important to understand, however, that the theory itself is constantly being revised. As moreobservations are made and more research conducted, the Big Bang theory becomes morecomplete and our knowledge of the origins of the universe more substantial.
THE FIRST ATOMS
Now that an attempt has been made to grapple with the theory of the Big Bang, the next logicalquestion to ask would be what happened afterward? In the minuscule fractions of the first secondafter creation what was once a complete vacuum began to evolve into what we now know as theuniverse. In the very beginning there was nothing except for a plasma soup. What is known of these brief moments in time, at the start of our study of cosmology, is largely conjectural.However, science has devised some sketch of what probably happened, based on what is knownabout the universe today.Immediately after the Big Bang, as one might imagine, the universe was tremendously hot as aresult of particles of both matter and antimatter rushing apart in all directions. As it began tocool, at around 10^-43 seconds after creation, there existed an almost equal yet asymmetricalamount of matter and antimatter. As these two materials are created together, they collide anddestroy one another creating pure energy. Fortunately for us, there was an asymmetry in favor of matter. As a direct result of an excess of about one part per billion, the universe was able tomature in a way favorable for matter to persist. As the universe first began to expand, thisdiscrepancy grew larger. The particles which began to dominate were those of matter. They werecreated and they decayed without the accompaniment of an equal creation or decay of anantiparticle.As the universe expanded further, and thus cooled, common particles began to form. Theseparticles are called baryons and include photons, neutrinos, electrons and quarks would becomethe building blocks of matter and life as we know it. During the baryon genesis period there wereno recognizable heavy particles such as protons or neutrons because of the still intense heat. Atthis moment, there was only a quark soup. As the universe began to cool and expand even more,we begin to understand more clearly what exactly happened.After the universe had cooled to about 3000 billion degrees Kelvin, a radical transition beganwhich has been likened to the phase transition of water turning to ice. Composite particles suchas protons and neutrons, called hadrons, became the common state of matter after this transition.Still, no matter more complex could form at these temperatures. Although lighter particles, calledleptons, also existed, they were prohibited from reacting with the hadrons to form more complexstates of matter. These leptons, which include electrons, neutrinos and photons, would soon beable to join their hadron kin in a union that would define present-day common matter.After about one to three minutes had passed since the creation of the universe, protons andneutrons began to react with each other to form deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen. Deuterium,