UNC-Duke Joint Physics Colloquium: The Search for the QCD Critical Point
Gökçe Basar (Assistant Professor of Physics at UNC)
"The Search for the QCD Critical Point"
The strong force binds the building blocks of protons and neutrons, quarks and gluons, together and creates most of the observed mass in the universe. At a few trillion degrees, these bonds break, and matter transitions into a new phase called Quark Gluon Plasma (QGP). QGP once filled the universe when it was microseconds old, and today is recreated in the heavy ion collision experiments with the goal of understanding how matter behaves at these extreme temperatures and densities. What do we know about the phases of matter at these extreme environments? What is the nature of the phase transition between ordinary matter and QGP? Is there a critical point in the phase diagram and if there is how can we locate it? I will give an overview of the status of the theoretical and experimental efforts to answer these questions as well as the future challenges.