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The Little Big Bang: The first 30 yocto seconds

2012-07-24 17:00
Sangyong Jeon
KMI Science Symposia (ES635)

One of the most important goals of high energy nuclear physics is to produce and study Quark-Gluon Plasma (QGP). This deconfined phase of nuclear matter naturally existed only within few microseconds after the Big Bang. Since the year 2000,
the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at the Brookhaven Lab has been colliding heavy ions to re-create this hot soup of quarks and gluons with the maximum temperature exceeding 5 trillion kelvin. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is also producing a copious amount of data since last year with maximum temperature possibly reaching 10 trillion kelvin. The QGP created in heavy ion collisions lives incredibly short amount of time – only about 30 yocto ($10^{-24}$) seconds. However, within that time, it goes through an amazing array of physical phenomena including hottest temperature and largest pressure ever achieved on earth, most perfect fluid, and a phase transition (with a possible critical point) to ordinary matter to just list a few. Creating QGP demands an extraordinary skills from experimentalists as well as dedicated efforts from theorists to understand it all. In this talk, I will outline our understanding of how QGP is created in heavy ion collisions, how it evolves and how it finally transforms back to the ordinary matter using variety of theoretical tools including many-body QCD, hydrodynamics and Boltzmann equation.