Exploring the Mysteries of the Quark-Gluon Plasma

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Date/Time:Monday, 10 Mar 2014 from 4:10 pm to 5:00 pm
Location:Physics 0003
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John C. Hill Iowa State University

Abstract: A microsecond after the birth of the universe in the "Big Bang" matter existed in a deconfined state of quarks and gluons called the quark-gluon plasma (QGP). The QGP has been created at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) using collisions of 100 GeV/A Au nuclei. After a brief discussion of the history of our involvement in relativistic heavy ion physics I will introduce the concept of the QGP and discuss how it is produced at RHIC and studied with the PHENIX detector. I will first concentrate on the evidence that it is actually the QGP followed by data showing it to flow like a liquid rather than a hot gas. Then I will present measurements of the temperature of the plasma. I will also compare the PHENIX results to recent data from the heavy ion program at the LHC, where the energy density and medium temperature are much higher. If time permits I will highlight some very recent discoveries on the QGP from RHIC. Finally I will discuss future projects at RHIC in which our group at Iowa State is participating.