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Quark-Gluon Plasma
September 18, 2008 3:33 AM   Subscribe

The ALICE Collaboration is building a dedicated heavy-ion detector to exploit the unique physics potential of nucleus-nucleus interactions at LHC energies. The aim is to study the physics of strongly interacting matter at extreme energy densities, where the formation of a new phase of matter, the quark-gluon plasma, is expected. This website aims both at introducing non-initiates to the field of physics covered by ALICE and at providing regular information on the evolution of the experiment, with detailed reports of its results and analysis.
posted by netbros (18 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Although much of the physics of strong interaction is, today, well understood, two very basic issues remain unresolved: the origin of confinement and the mechanism of the generation of mass.

It is a reminder of how very little we know that we do not even know for certain how massless elementary particles create matter that has mass.
posted by three blind mice at 4:16 AM on September 18, 2008


Saunders' Law states that organisations, collaborations or companies with acronymic names become proportionately more evil the more closely their names spell out recognisable words.

The law further states that this evil becomes more concentrated the more this acronymn references either girl's names or 19th century literature.

We should therefore be afraid.
posted by Jofus at 4:50 AM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


The ALICE Collaboration is building a dedicated heavy-ion detector to exploit the unique physics potential of nucleus-nucleus interactions at LHC energies.

(my emphasis)
I think they're done building it at this point...
posted by atrazine at 5:19 AM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


It is a reminder of how very little we know that we do not even know for certain how massless elementary particles create matter that has mass.

Coversely, should this experiment help demonstrate the mechanisms behind this physical process it will be a very tangible example of how and to what degree our knowledge is exanding. I mean those are fundamental questions.

Btw. I found a group blog involving US scientists and graduate students working on the LHC which I found very good. http://www.uslhc.us/blogs/.
posted by Catfry at 5:27 AM on September 18, 2008


Now we'll see ... just how far down the rabbit-hole ... this thing goes.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:47 AM on September 18, 2008


Saunders' Law states that organisations, collaborations or companies with acronymic names become proportionately more evil the more closely their names spell out recognisable words.

I think we're safe with CERN. Even Sarah Palin wouldn't call a kid that.
posted by three blind mice at 6:11 AM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Saunders' Law states that organisations, collaborations or companies with acronymic names become proportionately more evil the more closely their ... acronymn references either girl's names or 19th century literature.

ALICE --> Alice in Wonderland --> rabbit hole --> black hole

Alert the media!
posted by Sys Rq at 6:40 AM on September 18, 2008


Also it sounds vaguely like some kind of Resident Evil reference.
posted by Artw at 9:29 AM on September 18, 2008


We should therefore be afraid.

As the sentient quark-gluon plasma is clawing it's way through the bulkhead, you will hear a computerized child's voice say the last words you will ever hear;

"We're all in Wonderland now..."
posted by quin at 10:39 AM on September 18, 2008


I find this all so fascinating.

And sadly all I can really contribute is something to the effect of "my cats breath smells like cat food"
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 11:16 AM on September 18, 2008


atrazine: "is building" might still be the correct tense. Last week's achievement was for protons to go all the way around the beam, in each direction, but not at the same time. The event data shown on the public page looks like a collision between the beam and the wall. So most of the detector is obviously in place and working. But there is certainly still work for the detector groups to do, too, before the accelerator gets up to full operation.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 11:48 AM on September 18, 2008


Yes, but is the world gonna blow up real good? That is all this Average American wants to know about your fancy schmancy particles and stuff.

(Just kidding! I'm with Lacking Subtlety here...)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:01 PM on September 18, 2008


I thought once you start dinking around with quarks you aren't really playing with "matter" any more.
posted by wobh at 6:35 PM on September 18, 2008


LHCb sees where the antimatter's gone, ALICE looks at collisions of lead ions. CMS and ATLAS are two of a kind, they're looking for whatever new particles they can find.
posted by OldReliable at 7:44 PM on September 18, 2008


A faulty transformer in the Large Hadron Collider forced physicists to stop using the atom smasher just a day after starting it up last week.

No wonder there hasn't been any news, or black holes, yet.
posted by netbros at 9:10 PM on September 18, 2008


That story is a bit annoying and sensationalist netbros. The info that there were problems with the LHC was accessible on the operations pages of CERNs website, although it is a bit buried and obscure. However I'm sure that if they actually had asked if there were problems they would have been told what was up, and the phrasing of the story says as much although they frame it a bit unflatteringly, as if the probing questions of AP forced CERN to admit to concealing the info.

Also, this issue was revealed here on metafilter by yours truly 14 september by reading that same operations page!
posted by Catfry at 3:36 AM on September 19, 2008


Whoops, that link should go to the comment above darkrippers here.
posted by Catfry at 3:38 AM on September 19, 2008


Thanks for the info Catfry. Missed your comment in the other thread.
posted by netbros at 6:58 AM on September 19, 2008


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