26 October 2022, by Christina Krätzig
In his opening speech, University president Prof. Dr. Hauke Heekeren thanked the researchers who worked to present the latest research in an interactive exhibit that is easy to understand.
Prof. Dr. Erika Garutti, spokesperson of the Cluster of Excellence Quantum Universe, led the guests through the opening of the the exhibit.
The big bang occurred about 14 billion years ago. At the time, the universe was still dark. It was not until 380,000 years later that the universe became visible. This change is symbolized by a colored curtain in the “How it all began” exhibit.
The exhibit also presents work by 5 northern German artists who focus on the big bang and the universe.
The multi-media special exhibition “How it all began” opened in the Museum of Work at an event attended by about 200 guests. Until 10 April 2023, this extraordinary collaborative project between the Cluster of Excellence Quantum Universe, DESY, and the Museum of Work takes visitors to the museum on a journey from the Big Bang through to the endlessness of space.
A spark chamber, that reveals the omnipresent radiation of space. A corner where two players can kick protons into mighty collisions. And black and white sandhills that represent the matter and antimatter of space after the big bang. A single grain of sand on the white pile symbolized the tiny bit of matter responsible for the whole of the universe. Because without this tiny little bit left over, matter and antimatter would have canceled each other out. We still don’t know why this didn’t happen.
“The questions that are still unanswered about the beginning of the universe are humbling,” revealed University president Prof. Dr. Hauke Heekeren in his opening speech. As a neuroscientist, he is used to complex and abstract problems, but picturing what happened in the immediate aftermath of the big bang is a challenge for anyone’s imagination. Which made Prof. Heekeren all the more grateful to the researchers who worked on the project to present the latest research in an interactive exhibit which is easy to understand. “This kind of knowledge transfer is one of the key functions of Universität Hamburg and its four clusters of excellence, and it is also particularly important to me personally,” he emphasized.
And in fact, part of the exhibit does demonstrate the every day work undertaken by researchers at Universität Hamburg and the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY). Astrophysicists, experimental physicists, and mathematicians present video reports of their exciting discoveries in the lab, and also the everyday activities that flow around telephone calls and meetings. Large-format images show the technology that is helping them explain the secrets of the universe, for example the particle accelerator at CERN.
Hamburg is home to global leaders in big bang science
This is also a clear demonstration of the role that Hamburg plays in the global search for new particles and knowledge about the origins of the universe. “The Cluster of Excellence Quantum Universe at Universität Hamburg, in collaboration with DESY is part of the exceptional research alliances working in this field,” explains Prof. Heekeren. “There are 300 researchers working there, who are among the best specialists in the world.”
Getting to know these researchers and their work is a central part of the design of the exhibit. The guests invited to the opening event were led through the exhibit by spokesperson for the Cluster of Excellence Quantum Universe, Prof. Dr. Erika Garutti. There are many events planned with her colleagues from Quantum Universe for the coming winter. Starting off, astrophysicist Prof. Dr. Jochen Liske from the Hamburg Observatory is presenting a lecture on 7 November, “Am Anfang war das Licht” (in the beginning there was light). This will be followed on 14 November with a discussion with DESY particle physicist Prof. Dr. Georg Weinglein on the Higgs boson particle. Some of the upcoming events are designed for children and adolescents.