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Inside RHIC

Rick Gold

Sag Harbor, United States

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Please visit my ongoing display in Greenwich Village

My name is Rick Gold and RHIC shatters Gold ions!
Where science explores the fundamental nature of matter, and perhaps also the early history of the Universe!The heavy ions which are accelerated to nearly the speed of light are made of Gold

On a recent field trip to Brookhaven National Laboratory
, 13 students from Mr. Gold’s Regents and AP Physics classes discovered that’s exactly what RHIC was designed to do. The two and a half mile large Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider is one of the world’s premier research facilities and it is right here on Long Island. Physicists from around the world are using the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider to explore some of Nature’s most basic — and intriguing — ingredients and phenomena.
RHIC collides two beams of gold ions head-on when they’re traveling at nearly the speed of light (what Einstein called relativistic speeds). The beams travel in opposite directions around RHIC’s 2.4-mile, two-lane “racetrack.” When ions collide at such high speeds fascinating things happen. Traveling at 99.95% the speed of light, the ions appear flat, instead of spherical, due to the relativistic effects which occur at such speeds. As the two ions collide, smashing into one another and then passing through each other, some of the energy they had before the collision is transformed into intense heat and new particles.
To understand why RHIC collisions are scientifically interesting, it is important to know that scientists believe that all protons and neutrons are made up of three quarks, along with the gluons that bind them together. Theory holds that for a brief time at the beginning of the universe there were no protons and neutrons, only free quarks and gluons. However, as the universe expanded and cooled, the quarks and gluons bound together and, for the next 13 billion years, remained virtually inseparable. RHIC is the first instrument humans have built that can take us “back in time” to see how matter behaved at the start of the universe.
The group of students was accompanied by Physics Teacher Mr. Gold .

Yaphank, LI, NY, USA

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