What is the texture of the universe? Turns out that it's kind of gooey. A group of physicists have used sound waves to analyze matter in the cosmos, and found that its consistency is exactly the same as chocolate syrup.
Over at Quanta Magazine, Natalie Wolchover has a great article on the team of physicists who took the measurements, and what they mean. Here's how it starts:
To a sound wave, the cosmos has the consistency of chocolate syrup.
That's one discovery that scientists investigating the Big Bang have made using a new approach that treats the matter in the universe as a peculiar kind of fluid. They have calculated properties that characterize the universe's behavior and evolution, including its viscosity, or resistance to deformation by sound waves and other disturbances.
"Twenty pascal-seconds is the viscosity of the universe," said Leonardo Senatore, an assistant professor of physics at Stanford University — just as it is for the ice cream topping.
Leonardo Senatore, an assistant professor at Stanford University, is leading an effort to develop a new computational approach to cosmology that could reveal details about how the universe began.
The viscosity calculation could help cosmologists sleuth out the details of the Big Bang, and possibly someday identify its trigger, by enabling them to track the fluidlike flow of the cosmos back 13.8 billion years to its initial state.
Read the rest over at Quanta!