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Columbia UniversityThe President's Report 2002-2007
Groundbreaking Work
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William Zajc, Brian Cole, Miklos Gyulassy (Physics/Applied Physics)

Physicists use an ion collider to recreate the matter state quark-gluon plasma, which has not been extant since the universe’s first moments.

Columbia experimental physicists William Zajc and Brian Cole, along with their colleague Miklos Gyulassy, are leaders in the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) experiment at Brookhaven National Laboratories. This nuclear physics experiment has succeeded in creating quark-gluon plasma, a state of matter not known to exist since the first few microseconds after the beginning of the universe. This discovery connects physics to the study of the origin and development of the cosmos. RHIC scientists are now studying the properties of this new state of matter, finding among other things that it is an essentially perfect fluid, with the minimum possible viscosity a liquid can have. The striking results have created what is basically a new branch of theoretical physics, devoted to understanding the results and determining their implications for cosmology.
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