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  (Source: Sprouting Sprouts)

A visualization shows the quark gluon plasma "soup" created at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. The soup reaches temperatures that are as hot as the big bang, melting protons and neturons.  (Source: BNL via YouTube)

Vortices were also observed, a part of a phenomena known as "symmetry-breaking" that runs counter to the traditional laws of physics. (Apparently you CAN change the laws of physics!)  (Source: BNL via YouTube)
Conditions have likely not been seen in the last 13.7 billion years

While the Large Hadron Collider's record setting performance in particle collisions is certainly impressive, it's important not to forget about the important contributions that particle physics centers here in the United States are still making.  Fermilab (Batavia, Illinois) was the previous record holder of the highest energy collision and still has a shot at beating the LHC at finding the Higgs boson. 

Another key lab is the Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), home to the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), a slightly different type of collider that impacts larger particles.  Despite being grossly underfunded, both the Brookhaven NL and Fermilab had both offered stunning research contributions in recent years.

Now BNL can add one more to the list -- achieving temperatures likely not seen since the Big Bang.  The lab produced temperatures of 4 trillion degrees Celsius, 250,000 times hotter than the Sun's interior, during collisions of gold atoms hurtling at almost the speed of light.  To give another benchmark, the collision produced internal heat approximately 40 times that at the center of an imploding supernova star.

The collisions produced a stunning "soup" of quarks and gluons.  The analyzed data indicates that record high temperature caused the protons and neutrons of the gold atoms to "melt" into the quarks and gluons that compose them, which then formed a plasma, known as quark gluon plasma (QGP).  This appears to be the first time man has been able to make such a quark soup.

Dr. William F. Brinkman, Director of the DOE Office of Science, states that the results are amazing.  He comments, "This research offers significant insight into the fundamental structure of matter and the early universe, highlighting the merits of long-term investment in large-scale, basic research programs at our national laboratories.  I commend the careful approach RHIC scientists have used to gather detailed evidence for their claim of creating a truly remarkable new form of matter."

The researchers measured the temperature of the QGP using color and light-based heat analysis techniques, the advanced derivatives of similar techniques used in industrial applications.  And there were surprises. 

States Steven Vigdor, Brookhaven’s Associate Laboratory Director for Nuclear and Particle Physics, "The temperature inferred from these new measurements at RHIC is considerably higher than the long-established maximum possible temperature attainable without the liberation of quarks and gluons from their normal confinement inside individual protons and neutrons.  However, the quarks and gluons in the matter we see at RHIC behave much more cooperatively than the independent particles initially predicted for QGP."

The biggest challenge in the research, perhaps, was convincing skeptics in the research field that the quark soup was real.  Previously, physicists had predicted that it would have a gas-like form, but results from the BNL, starting in 2005, suggested it was actually a remarkable liquid with no frictional resistance or viscosity. 

The verifications was very challenging; whereas the QGP existed for microseconds after the Big Bang, in the lab it existed for a mere billionth of a trillionth of a second (10^-21 s).  In order to detect what happened in that sliver of time, researchers had to capture the handful of high-energy photons that were thrown off and told exactly how hot the mix got.  The results seem to conclusively indicate that the QGP is indeed a liquid, at least at some temperatures.

Another interesting result was the "symmetry-breaking" behavior observed in the collision bubbles.  In fundamental terms, the phenomena involves the charged particles immersed in the powerful magnetic field within the bubbles moving in directions opposite to what is seen in today's universe.

The results are published in two papers appearing in the journal Physical Review Letters [1] [2].

Following the success, the researchers plan to within a year or two upgrade the RHIC to improve its collision rate and detector capabilities.  Better collisions could reveal other exotic particles like Higgs bosons or their theoretical alternative preons (point particles that some have theorized make up quarks and gluons.

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RE: I love this stuff
By banthracis on 2/17/2010 9:35:46 AM , Rating: 2
Slap the speed of light (in this case, it might be almost twice the speed of light realitive to each other) into the equation to calculate the kinetic energy and you get something that is approaching infinity. Call that 4 trillion or call it a whatever you want. It's just an exciting number that doesn't mean much.

Ok, someone obviously never passed high school can't get anything to go twice the speed of light.

Second, as previously explained, the temperatures are not made up, they are actual temperature based on measurements using proven technology. Read the actual article if you want a full methods section.

Second, hate to break ti to you, but everything in modern technology was based upon a scientific discovery that had no immediate use at its time.
Electricity was originally nothing more than a interesting phenomenon, yet today our society can't survive without it.
When Watson and Crick first discovered the structure of DNA, people had the same attitude, yet today, it's uses are incredible, from medical advancements to catching criminals.
Just because you can't see any potential, or don't know enough to see it's potential, doesn't mean others down the road won't use these discoveries to change the world.

RE: I love this stuff
By bhougha10 on 2/17/2010 1:29:17 PM , Rating: 1
I have an electrical engineering degree from the third ranked college in the USA, I passed phsics just fine. Notice I said realitive to each other.
Tell me this, did you buy the two articals that this artical references or just take these "proven technology" without any question?
This proven Technology that you talk about, do we have equipment sensitive enough to detect and prove this gluon plasma "soup" was actual present? Or was this just a computer visualization of what they thought it might look like at this speed.
Do you question anything these people say, or take everything as gold and just keep handing them over money that could be used for useful things, like world hunger.

RE: I love this stuff
By Snow01 on 2/18/2010 12:48:16 AM , Rating: 2
I have an electrical engineering degree from the third ranked college in the USA, I passed phsics just fine. ...keep handing them over money that could be used for useful things, like world hunger. .

You passed physics, you just can't spell it. Ok. Article, not artical. And the more logical among us would not propose diverting money from research to something so cliche as ending world hunger. I hate to flame, but come on.

RE: I love this stuff
By sld on 2/18/2010 1:40:26 AM , Rating: 2
...and they say engineers can't do science. No offence. =D

Even high school kids know that photons travel at the speed of light in a vacuum (and a tiny bit slower in earth's atmosphere). Hence the scientists were not measuring the kinetic energies of the photons, they were measuring something else. As mentioned above by another poster, they were measuring frequencies. To get a temperature like 4 trillion degrees, the photons were probably very short wavelength gamma rays.

I don't know what instruments are used to capture gamma rays though. Any engineers here can tell us?

RE: I love this stuff
By camylarde on 2/18/2010 8:00:17 AM , Rating: 2
Ok, a bit of a higher degre sci-fi than this entire article - nuclear fusion. Almost limitless energy source compared to what we have now, and how the prospects are for not so far future.

With such cheap energy (hopefully) anything that seems not economical today CAN become highly profitable, OR higly supported venture. Like artifical food made of god knows what. At the end it may mean food for everyone. In abundance.

as clearly, the traditional farming methods do not yield quite enough so far. And if it does, it's in the places where we learnt to keep birth control in reasonable limits.

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