Scientists study gold ions to further research

Ariel Lev

Kent State students and faculty gathered yesterday to hear about the future of nuclear science.

Mikhail Kopytine, a post-doctoral research associate, spoke about what is happening and what researchers expect to see in the future at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, N.Y.

Kopytine spoke about Brookhaven’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (a 2.5-mile particle accelerator), the Solenoidal Tracker at RHIC, the PHENIX detector, the work done using those machines and the results achieved through their use.

“The goal was to report the present state of affairs in this rapidly developing field,” Kopytine said. “I wanted to get down to the basics of quantum chromodynamics, which is the theory responsible for our physical universe and our bodies.”

The tools used at the Brookhaven Lab examine results from the collision of gold atoms inside RHIC. Using this data, researchers collect information about chemical reactions they could not gather without the use of Brookhaven’s devices. The data collected from these collisions is taken from conditions similar to those found seconds after the formation of the universe, said Declan Keane, director of Kent State’s Center for Nuclear Research.

Kopytine’s speech was meant to give people in the physics department an understanding of what happens at the Brookhaven Lab and why it is important, Keane said.

Extensive scientific work has been done at the Brookhaven Lab in the past, but Kopytine emphasized the future of nuclear research.

“Kopytine underscored the progress that has been made and the things that still remain to be classified,” Keane said. “That helps to focus attention on what has been discovered and it helps work out the problems that come up when working with new discoveries.”

Kopytine told the audience about the teams working at Brookhaven to make sense of all the data analyzed at the lab and about how the teams are growing.

“STAR has grown quite a bit since its early days,” Kopytine said. “We now have more than 52 institutions and more than 500 people working on the STAR team.”

This team works to determine the properties and structure of interactions between particles known as hadrons, according to the Brookhaven Lab’s Web site. The researchers then attempt to determine what has happened in the interactions triggered in the lab.

These scientists attempt to discover what might be possible in the universe based on information gathered from research done in the lab. They look for connections between what happens in the lab and what happens in the universe. They also attempt to discover new phenomena that do not currently exist.

“The fact that they don’t yet exist doesn’t mean that they aren’t possible,” Kopytine said.

Future research done at the Brookhaven Lab will look at what can be discovered about the formation of the universe and what that information means to the future of nuclear research.

Contact sciences reporter Ariel Lev at [email protected].