The exploration of hot nuclear matter
When nuclear matter is heated beyond 2 trillion degrees, it becomes a strongly coupled plasma of quarks and gluons. Experiments using highly energetic collisions between heavy nuclei have revealed that this new state of matter is a nearly ideal, highly opaque liquid. A description based on string theory and black holes in five dimensions has made the quark-gluon plasma an archetypical strongly coupled quantum system. Open questions about the structure and theory of the quark-gluon plasma are under active investigation. Many of the insights are also relevant to ultracold fermionic atoms and strongly correlated condensed matter.
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