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Published on Feb 12, 2010
The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC, http://www.bnl.gov/rhic ) is a 2.4-mile-circumference particle accelerator/collider that has been operating at Brookhaven Lab since 2000, delivering collisions of heavy ions, protons, and other particles to an international team of physicists investigating the basic structure and fundamental forces of matter. In 2005, RHIC physicists announced that the matter created in RHICs most energetic collisions behaves like a nearly perfect liquid in that it has extraordinarily low viscosity, or resistance to flow. Since then, the scientists have been taking a closer look at this remarkable form of matter, which last existed some 13 billion years ago, a mere fraction of a second after the Big Bang. Scientists have revelaed new findings, including the first measurement of temperature very early in the collision events, and their implications for the nature of this early-universe matter.