Findings from Brookhaven's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) presented at QM2004

December 22, 2003

Physicists from the four detector groups at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) -- the world's largest facility for nuclear physics research -- will gather with colleagues from around the world to present their latest data and analyses during the Seventeenth International Conference on Ultra-Relativistic Nucleus-Nucleus Collisions, also known as Quark Matter 2004.

An end view of collision between deuterons and gold ions captured by the STAR detector at Brookhaven's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC). (Click image to view 300 dpi, hi-res jpg.)

Located at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and funded primarily by DOE's Office of Science, Office of Nuclear Physics, RHIC was designed to accelerate gold ions to nearly the speed of light and collide them head on in an attempt to recreate the hot, dense conditions that existed at the dawn of the universe. Under those conditions, the constituents of the ions' protons and neutrons, known as quarks and gluons, are expected to be free of the strong force that holds them confined within ordinary nuclear matter. Studying these free quarks and gluons in a "quark-gluon plasma" will help scientists understand the strong nuclear force and how matter evolved over time.

At Quark Matter 2004, RHIC scientists will present the latest findings from experiments searching for signatures of quark-gluon plasma (see background), as well as other interesting phenomena. One intriguing observation hints at the possibility that the energy of the beams at RHIC may allow scientists to detect another extreme condition of matter known as color glass condensate, which some theorists postulate exists inside the gold ions before they collide (see background). There is considerable controversy about the existence of this color glass condensate and the interpretation of these early experimental results.

QM2004 will be hosted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Sunday, January 11, through Saturday, January 18, 2004, at the Oakland Marriott City Center and Oakland Convention Center.

More information can be found on the QM2004 website (
See also, the media advisory issued by Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (

DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory

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