quark Gluon Plasma
At the very beginning after the big bang, all particles floated freely and interacted weakly. This stage is called the Quark Gluon Plasma (QGP). Scientists believed that QGP should be a gas for a very long time. But the new discovery from Brookhaven’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, shows that the QGP is a near-ideal Fermi liquid rather than the gas, that likely has the lowest viscosity of anything ever measured.
Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider
The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) is one of only two operating heavy-ion colliders ever built. Located at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) in Upton, New York. By using RHIC to collide ions traveling at relativistic speeds, physicists study the primordial form of matter that existed in the universe shortly after the Big Bang. They are using the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider to explore some of Nature’s most basic and intriguing, ingredients and phenomena.
The ‘Perfect’ Liquid
RHIC has created a new state of hot, dense matter out of the quarks and gluons that are the basic particles of atomic nuclei, but it is a state quite different and even more remarkable than had been predicted. Instead of behaving like a gas of free quarks and gluons, as was expected, the matter created in RHIC’s heavy ion collisions is more like a liquid.
A Closer Look At RHIC
RHIC’s perfect liquid also turns out to be the hottest matter ever created in a laboratory. Let’s see how it works in particle collision experiments.
There is an emerging connection between the collider’s results and calculations using the methods of string theory, an approach that attempts to explain fundamental properties of the universe using 10 dimensions instead of the usual three spatial dimensions plus time.
RHIC’s quark-gluon plasma exhibits other unusual properties that have intrigued scientists. Tiny “bubbles” formed within this hot soup may internally disobey fundamental symmetries that normally characterize the interactions of quarks and gluons.