Epochs of the Universe – Mission 03: Electroweak Era

You are embarking on a journey through space and time itself. Back through time, you traverse the eras of the universe, closer and closer to the beginning of everything. Your voyage explores all stages, or epochs of the universe, from the start until this moment.

Plus, you have the only CosmoControl, to rewind, fast-forward, pause or resume space and time.

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epochs of the universe electroweak eraepochs of the universe diagram electroweak era


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epochs of the universe diagram electroweak era


Current Epoch: Electroweak Era
Age of the Universe: One duodecillionth of a second
Size of the Universe: Grapefruit-sized
Current Temperature: 18 quadrillion degrees F
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Mission Briefing

Suddenly, space and time resume. Instantly, you pick up at the moment the GUT Era concludes, in the Electroweak Era. Previously, you witnessed inflation kicking off! Finally, a beyond microscopic universe begins to grow, starting to slowly take on the shape of the universe you know today. However, the Electroweak Era picks up only fractions of a single second later. Yet, somehow, you realize the universe’s dramatic change has only just begun!

What do you see?

Presently, the Electroweak Era begins with a few dramatic changes. Regardless of the mere fragments of time that have passed, this era presents an all but transformed universe.

Feverishly, you scan mission data to understand what is occurring. Firstly, you notice that the strong nuclear force has now “broken free” from the other fundamental forces, becoming its own unique, independent force. As a result, only electromagnetism and weak nuclear force remain merged as one. Thus, you understand why this epoch is known as the Electroweak Era!

fundamental force diagram electroweak era


Furthermore, during the GUT Era, you recalled witnessing a universal energy field being generated as inflation sprung to life. However, inflation is now in full effect! In fact, the tremendous potential energy trapped within this field is now releasing into the universe. As a result, the entire universe becomes a dense soup of quarks and gluons!

Right before your eyes, the sub-microscopic universe grows at alarming rates. In fact, the atom-sized universe grows to the size of a grapefruit instantly during the Electroweak Era! In other words, you have just witnessed the universe grow by a factor of one-vigintillion! That is to say, a “1” followed by 70 zeros!

However, your mission data informs you that this transition must have taken place at speeds faster than light! How could this possibly be? After all, you know well from Einstein’s work that nothing in our universe exceeds this cosmic speed limit.

Ultimately, the field decays, putting a stop to both its energy and the rapid inflation of the universe.

What do you feel?

Previously, temperatures in the universe were unbearable, even infinite at times. Now, as inflation ceases, conditions become “cool” enough for particles to actually interact.

However, conditions are far from what humans consider “cool,” or “calm.” In fact, temperatures currently sit at just over 18-quadrillion degrees Fahrenheit! Such temperatures would instantly melt any metal known on Earth.

Therefore, particle interactions are still nowhere near the ones we know today. Actually, even basic matter, like hydrogen or helium are not yet in existence.  Rather, only exotic particles arise, known as W and Z Bosons. Plus, these rare and unstable particles only exist temporarily, vanishing almost as soon as they are created! Ultimately, temperatures still only allow a universe completely full of protons and pure energy.

However, this current climate is cool enough to allow one major change. In the final moments of the Electroweak Era, you witness the two final fundamental forces separate. Finally, all four forces of the universe now become the unique, individual forces that we know today!


What is really happening? Scientific explanation.

Starting with the big bang itself, all previous epochs to the Electroweak Era remain a mystery. Due to extreme conditions and lack of light, human’s science is unable to directly observe such time periods. Actually, even our current mathematics and physics completely break down. As a result, mankind currently has little, or no explanation for how or why the universe behaved the way it did during its initial epochs.

Finally, the Electroweak Era breaks this chain of mysteries. In fact, the Electroweak Era has been successfully tested directly and explained through math and science many times.

Energy field:

During inflation of the Electroweak Era, an invisible field of tremendous energy existed. Physically, unfathomable amounts of potential energy within the field are stored.

Ultimately, stored energy is released into the universe. As a result, currently existing matter is hyper-charged and energized. Therefore, we not only see rapid inflation, but also glimpses of early particle interactions.

Finally, as the field’s unworldly energy quickly decays back into “normal” particles, we see both inflation and particle interactions stop abruptly. This time period is referred to as reheating.

Fundamental forces:

Previously, electromagnetism and weak nuclear force remained merged as one. Hence, this epoch’s name. However, during the final stages of the Electroweak Era, the universe has cooled enough for all forces to separate.

Indeed, temperatures still swell at just under 18-quadrillion degrees Fahrenheit. Still, this subtle decrease proved enough to allow dramatic transformations and behavioral change in the universe.

Ultimately, this temperature and force transitions conclude the Electroweak Era. These changes occur when our universe is a mere one-100-billionth of a second old!


Now, temperatures are “low” enough for basic particle interactions. However, only exotic particles, like gluons and bosons exist. Not to mention, even these rare particles only exist briefly before disappearing.

Ultimately, gluons and bosons make sense during the Electroweak Era. After all, such particles are deemed the force-carrying particles in our current Standard Model. For instance, photons are a fundamental form of bosons that carry the electromagnetic force. Being that fundamental forces were among the few existing things during this epoch, force-carrying particles’ presence makes sense.

Yet, familiar interactions, such as protons, neutrons and electrons are still unable to occur. In fact, even the first photon of light, or the first hydrogen atom have yet to exist in the universe!


Rapidly, the universe expands during the Electroweak Era. Previously, we mentioned that the universe grew from smaller than a single atom, to a grapefruit. Not to mention, this extreme growth occurred at faster than light speed.

Initially, this excess speed caused widespread confusion, and disbelief. After all, Einstein’s well-accepted work tells us that nothing can exceed the speed of light. Essentially, this is our universe’s speed limit. Besides, anything exceeding such speeds would take on infinite mass.

However, during the Electroweak Era, the universe itself was expanding. In other words, the very fabric of space and time itself was undergoing inflation, not simply particles or matter. Therefore, spacetime, operates beyond physics and math. Einstein’s brilliant theories set no limits on the very fabric of the universe.


Mission Summary


Finally, our universe becomes slightly familiar. In fact, in only fractions of a single second, the universe has grown from an atom to a grapefruit!

While still unbearable, temperatures have dropped from octillions to only quadrillions of degrees. At last, you witnessed the final fundamental force break free, allowing four individual forces in the universe.

However, the universe is still a dark and dangerous realm. Still, you long for light. Your human eyes have yet to see the first photon of light come into the world. Perhaps, at long last, you will experience this in your next mission?

Quickly, you rush to your CosmoControl, eager to arrive in the next epoch of the universe. The Particle Era!

[thrive_link color=’red’ link=’http://astronimate.com/article/epochs-of-the-universe-gut-era/’ target=’_self’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]PREVIOUS: GUT Era[/thrive_link]

[thrive_link color=’red’ link=’http://astronimate.com/article/epochs-of-the-universe-particle-era/’ target=’_self’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]NEXT: Particle Era[/thrive_link]

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Take a quiz on mission 03: Electroweak Era

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Read a top 10 list on mission 03: Electroweak Era

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