There's more to the beginning of the universe than a loud noise

Subject: Recipe

Hi Ally,

Hope you’ve settled into the new place okay. Here’s that universe recipe you were after. Let me know how it turns out!

Cheers,

H x

Ingredients:

  • A handful of Up and Down quarks
  • Half a teaspoon of Strange and Charm quarks
  • A dusting of Top and Bottom quarks (forget about these if you can’t find them)
  • A pint of electrons
  • A pint of neutrinos
  • Pinch of muons
  • Pinch of muons neutrinos
  • One tau
  • One tau neutrino
  • Photons (as many as you can catch)
  • A pint of gluons
  • A teaspoon of Z, w+ and w-
  • Gravitons (In some specialists supermarkets these can be bought as single quanta of the unified field – but they’re pricey!)
  • Dark Matter, and plenty of it
  • 2-3 packs of dark energy tablets

Equipment:

  • A magic expanding saucepan
  • A cake tin with flexible, dissolving edges

(N.B. If you have a magic expanding saucepan that can turn into a cake tin with flexible, dissolving edges that would be perfect)

Method:

1. Heat the magic saucepan to approx. 1032K or until you can see its base begin to wobble. You’re looking for small fluctuations or ripples in the fabric of space-time. The extreme heat is important.

2. Throw in the photons, gluons, zs, ws, and gravitons (or the quanta of the unified field, if you’ve managed to get your hands on some). The dark energy tablets can be added by the bucket-full.

3. The photons should begin producing matter anti-matter pairs immediately; these will annihilate each other until step 4. Don’t worry about this. It’ll all balance out in the end. Start dolloping in some dark matter, a bit at a time.

4. Spoon in the Up and Down quarks to break the symmetry – this was Bary’s idea, seems to speed things up a bit – and punctuate this by pouring in the electrons, a few billion at a time. Keep folding the mixture together until you have a dense quark-gluon plasma. You’re looking for a gooey texture here, more like a think roux than a custard. The magic pan should have helped by inflating; if you’re stuck with a regular pan, just keep reducing the heat gradually to stop the plasma collapsing in on itself. (This would be bad.)

5. Sprinkle in the Up, Down, Strange and Charm quarks, and pour in the remaining electrons and neutrinos. Keep

cooling the mixture – if your pan has expanded beyond the hob, just move it onto a table. There’s no need to keep adding heat at this point; it’s the cooling that’s important. Quarks and gluons will start combining into protons and neutrons. Throw in some more dark matter if you fancy it. The mixture will start to feel a bit lumpy, but should still look fairly homogeneous.

6. As you stir, watch for a rapid thinning of the mixture – this vital stage indicates the combination of electrons and protons into neutral hydrogen atoms, and will ensure your universe cake is light and fluffy. As soon as this has happened, it’s time to decant the mixture into the flexible cake tin with dissolvable edges.

7. Once the batter is in the cake tin, sit back and relax. Allow the mixture to continue expanding and cooling to below 3000 Kelvin. The cake tin should grow with the mixture, dissolving into it at the edges. As the batter rises and hardens, a light spongy structure will appear and start turning golden.

8. Large stars will ignite within the structure, then burst and regroup; the cake will get tastier with each subsequent generation. When the third generation of stars can be seen glowing within the universe your cake will be cool enough and tasty enough to eat!

Warning note: Do not let the universe cool too far before you consume it. The structure will coagulate into large chewy lumps that taste a bit like gristle. If this happens, your only option is to bin it and start again.

Subject: Re: Recipe

H,

Thanks for the recipe. Unfortunately I don’t have a magic expanding saucepan anymore, shit-bag took it away with him when he left, along with half my vinyl collection. Anyway, I gave it a try in the microwave but within a nanosecond the door flew off and the whole lot exploded, so I spent the morning scraping bits of plasma off my walls. Going to try it again tomorrow – I have a casserole dish I got from Dimension 7-11, so maybe that’ll allow for infinite expansion in 3D. What do you think?

Al x

Written by Helen Sedgwick