Physicists at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) recently observed first glimpses of a possible boundary separating ordinary nuclear matter, composed of protons and neutrons we know today, from the odd, seething soup of their constituent quarks and gluons that permeated the early universe some 14 billion years ago.

The RHIC physicists have been creating and studying this primordial quark-gluon plasma (QGP) for a while but the data they presented at the Quark Matter 2012 international conference from systematic studies varied the energy and types of colliding ions to create this new form of matter under a broad range of initial conditions, allowing the experimenters to unravel its properties.


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