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Brookhaven announces new ‘perfect liquid’;

ACU professors and students part of research team

For immediate release
April 18, 2005

New results from the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) - a giant atom "smasher" located at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory - were announced Monday in Tampa, Fla., during the national meeting of the American Physical Society.

The four detector groups conducting research at the RHIC 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.

Abilene Christian University has been a member institution of PHENIX – the largest of the four detectors that study the high energy collisions at RHIC – for the past five years. About 20 ACU students have worked on the experiment. Students have built detectors, taken shifts, analyzed data and been co-authors on several published papers.   At least three of these students are currently in graduate school and still involved in this area of research.  ACU is the only institution in PHENIX that involves undergraduate students on a consistent basis.

"Today's announcement is a summary of the many things that have been learned since the beginning of operation of RHIC," said Dr. Rusty Towell, assistant professor of physics and a member of the PHENIX collaboration since 1999. Towell was in Tampa Monday for the APS meeting.

"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."

"The truly stunning finding at RHIC that the new state of matter created in the collisions of gold ions is more like a liquid than a gas gives us a profound insight into the earliest moments of the universe," said Dr. Raymond L. Orbach, Director of the DOE Office of Science.

The papers, which the four RHIC collaborations (BRAHMS, PHENIX, PHOBOS, and STAR) have been working on for nearly a year, will be published simultaneously by the journal Nuclear Physics A, and will also be compiled in a special Brookhaven report.

"The finding of a nearly perfect liquid in a laboratory experiment recreating the conditions believed to have existed a few microseconds after the birth of the universe is truly astonishing," said Praveen Chaudhari, Director of Brookhaven Lab. "The four RHIC collaborations are now collecting and analyzing very large new data sets from the fourth and fifth years of operation, and I expect more exciting and intriguing revelations in the near future."

Note: This news release is based in part on a news release issued by Brookhaven National Laboratory.


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