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Hottest temperature ever heads science to Big Bang

Scientists have created the hottest temperature ever in the lab -- 4 trillion degrees Celsius -- hot enough to break matter down into the kind of soup that existed microseconds after the birth of the universe.
They used a giant atom smasher at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York to knock gold ions together to make the ultra-hot explosions -- which lasted only for milliseconds.

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New Findings on Hot Quark Soup Produced at RHIC
Scientists to present latest findings from heavy ion collisions at APS meeting Feb. 15

Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), the world's largest particle accelerator dedicated to nuclear physics research, will present compelling new findings about the nature of the "perfect" liquid created in near-light-speed collisions of gold ions at RHIC.
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After the quark-gluon plasma filled the universe for a few millionths of a second after the big bang, it was over 13 billion years until experimenters managed to recreate the extraordinarily hot, dense medium on Earth. The JET Collaboration, a team from six universities and three national laboratories led by Berkeley Lab's Nuclear Science Division, is now developing a new and highly detailed theoretical picture of this unique state of the early universe.

The Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Physics recently named Berkeley Lab's Nuclear Science Division to lead a nine-institution collaboration investigating the "Quantitative Jet and Electromagnetic Tomography of Extreme Phases of Matter in Heavy-Ion Collisions" - JET, for short.
The JET Collaboration is a five-year theoretical effort to understand the properties of the extraordinarily hot and dense state of matter known as the quark-gluon plasma. The quark-gluon plasma filled the Universe a few millionths of a second after the big bang but instantly vanished, condensing into the protons and neutrons and other particles from which the present Universe descended.
Some 13.7 billion years later, experimenters recreated the quark-gluon plasma on Earth, using the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory. The first heavy-ion collisions occurred at RHIC in 2000, but confirming the occurrence of the quark-gluon plasma in these events took several more years of data collection and analysis.

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Big bang flashgun to snap atomic anatomy
A strange state of matter that dominated the early universe could be used to create ultra-fast flashes of radiation, brief enough to capture what's going on inside atomic nuclei.
To take snapshots of rapid processes you need brief flashes of light. Until now, the shortest pulses have been created by lasers - a quick blast can prompt atoms to release a burst of X-rays lasting only attoseconds (10^-18 seconds, or a billionth of a billionth of a second). That is quick enough to capture the vibration of individual molecules, but far too slow for nuclear processes.

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Finding the critical point in quark-gluon plasma
The study of critical points - the locations on a phase diagram where the boundary between phases disappears - has a very long history, starting with the observation of the critical point in water at the beginning of the 19th century. Recently, considerable attention has been paid to whether a critical point exists on the phase diagram of strongly interacting matter, which is known under various names as nuclear matter, quark matter, or quark-gluon plasma. One very important issue is whether the critical point can be found in experiments that involve colliding heavy nuclei. The most widely discussed signal of the critical point is the enhancement of fluctuations of final state observables, for example, the number of pions emitted in a collision. In a paper in Physical Review Letters, Mikhail Stephanov (University of Illinois at Chicago) points out new methods by which such fluctuations might be analysed and eventually detected in experiments.

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