Experts to Gather to Discuss Quark Matter

Physicists from 35 countries and nearly 200 institutions are coming to Knoxville, Tenn., March 30-April 4, for the International Conference on Ultra-Relativistic Nucleus Collisions, hosted by the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Also known as the Quark Matter conference, the meeting is the premier conference in the field of high-energy nuclear physics, with typically 600 or more attendees. This 21st-in-the-series meeting will be held at the Knoxville Convention Center, where scientists will review and debate the most recent information on quark-gluon matter and related subjects.

"The central object of study is the so-called quark-gluon plasma, a state of matter that last existed in the universe at one microsecond after the Big Bang. The state of matter is so hot that the quarks that make up the protons in the atoms of normal matter can no longer be confined in the cores of atoms," said Glenn Young, director of ORNL's Physics Division and conference chair. "The quark-gluon plasma may exist at the cores of neutron stars in the present-day universe," Young said.

Major experimental activities toward understanding the earliest moments after the Big Bang are under way at DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York and at the Large Hadron Collider, located near Geneva, Switzerland.

One objective of the conference is to provide educational opportunities for new members of the field, including graduate students, post-doctoral researchers and young academic and laboratory staff at the conference. The conference schedule includes a full day of lectures given by international leaders in the field and dedicated to students, to be held Sunday, March 29, at the conference venue.

Also scheduled are 35 plenary lectures and 140 parallel talks. A poster session with some 200 exhibits will be on display throughout the conference.

The conference is being organized by ORNL, the University of Tennessee, Vanderbilt University, Duke University, Florida State University, North Carolina State University and Georgia State University. Support is being provided by these institutions plus DOE, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, CERN, the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, Germany's ExtreMe Matter Institute GSI, Elsevier, the American Physics Society and the Institute of Physics.

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