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Theorists dazzled by 'perfect' liquid

Quarks + Gluons = new state of matter?

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US Researchers say they have created a new state of matter at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) in the Brookhaven National Laboratory.

The scientists used the machine to hurl gold ions at other gold ions and, in the manner of particle physicists, they watched to see what happened next.

The resulting mix of quarks and gluons did not behave quite as expected, Spacedaily.com reports. Theorists predict that just after the big bang, there would have existed a quark-gluon plasma, and some theorists argue that this is what the researchers have discovered.

However, scientists say that the matter seems to be more like a dense liquid. The particles show a tendency to move collectively when subjected to pressure, for instance.

"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," notes Dr Raymond Orbach, director of the Department of Energy office of science.

The liquid is also unusual in that its flow properties appear to match hydrodynamic models rather too well. Researchers say that it is nearly "perfect" in this respect.

"In fact, the degree of collective interaction, rapid thermalisation, and extremely low viscosity of the matter being formed at RHIC make this the most nearly perfect liquid ever observed," said Sam Aronson, Brookhaven's associate laboratory director.

Aronson went on to explain that the matter could still be a quark-gluon plasma, just a slightly different form to that predicted by theory.

You can read more here at Spacedaily.com. ®

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