Right after the big bang, the universe expanded at an enormous rate, but no one knows how or why. One explanation suggests that our universe is actually a brane—a three-dimensional world suspended in a four-dimensional superstructure. Inflation happened when our brane collided with another brane. The collision also created defects that eventually coalesced into galaxies.
To test this theory, scientists set up an analogous system. They took cold helium and separated it into two phases. The boundary between phases stood in for a brane. When they collided, a miniature universe was born.