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Colloquium: The first one femtometer/c

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Brian Cole, Columbia University
09 February 2017 from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
117 Osmond Laboratory
Contact Name
Mark Strikman
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Studies of high-energy nuclear collisions at the Relativistic Heavy

Ion Collider (RHIC) and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are providing

insight on the properties of the "quark-gluon plasma," a unique state

of matter that exists only at ultra-high temperatures ($T > 10^{12}$

Kelvin) in which quarks become temporarily deconfined. An unexpected

result from this work is the conclusion that the interactions between

quarks and gluons in the plasma are extraordinarily strong with the

consequence that the plasma behaves as a nearly ideal fluid. The

evolution from the initial state of a nuclear collision into a

thermalized, strongly-coupled system in a very short period of time,

$\Delta t < 1$~fm/c, has strong parallels with the evolution of the

early universe.


I will briefly discuss measurements from RHIC and the LHC that have

stimulated this work, the understanding of the early evolution of

high-energy nuclear collisions and the parallels with the early

universe. I will then show results of recent measurements in

proton-nucleus and proton-proton collisions at the LHC that appear to

show similar strong-coupling and will discuss how these observations

are challenging our understanding of nuclear collisions, and,

possibly, our understanding of the strong interaction itself. I will

finish with discussion of new kinds of measurements at the LHC that

may provide insight on this problem and that may also open new avenues

for fundamental particle physics research.