Ask a scientist — or anyone, really — about the birth of the universe, and they’ll probably tell you it started with the Big Bang.
What nobody knows, though, is what caused that explosion. Some suspect the Big Bang was actually a massive star going supernova, but again, no one knows what exactly causes those stars to ignite, either.
That might have just changed, though, thanks to a University of Central Florida research team that says it discovered the conditions necessary for a Big Bang explosion in their lab — without actually intending to.
A team led by Kareem Ahmed, an assistant professor in UCF’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, was testing methods for producing hypersonic jet propulsion when it discovered that a passive flame could accelerate and explode on its own.
“We explore these supersonic reactions for propulsion, and as a result of that, we came across this mechanism that looked very interesting,” Ahmed said in a press release. “When we started to dig deeper, we realized that this is relatable to something as profound as the origin of the universe.”