These images contrast the degree of interaction and collective motion, or "flow," among quarks in the predicted gaseous quark-gluon plasma state (Figure A, see mpeg animation) vs. the liquid state that has been observed in gold-gold collisions at RHIC (Figure B, see mpeg animation). The green "force lines" and collective motion (visible on the animated version only) show the much higher degree of interaction and flow among the quarks in what is now being described as a nearly "perfect" liquid.
New state of matter more remarkable than predicted -- raising many new questions
The four detector groups conducting research at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) -- a giant atom “smasher” located at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory -- say they’ve 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. In peer-reviewed papers summarizing the first three years of RHIC findings, the scientists say that instead of behaving like a gas of free quarks and gluons, as was expected, the matter created in RHIC’s heavy ion collisions appears to be more like a liquid.
“Once again, the physics research sponsored by the Department of Energy is producing historic results,” said Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman, a trained chemical engineer. “The DOE is the principal federal funder of basic research in the physical sciences, including nuclear and high-energy physics. With today’s announcement we see that investment paying off.”
Karen McNulty Walsh | EurekAlert!
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