by Panos Charitos. Published: 29 April 2014

The Quark Matter 2014 conference is the twenty-fourth edition of the most prestigious series of international meetings in the field of ultrarelativistic heavy-ion collisions. The meetings bring together theorists and experimentalists committed to understanding the fundamental properties of strongly interacting matter at extreme energy densities. The conditions reached in head-on nuclear collisions at the highest currently available energies correspond to those in primordial matter a few tens of microseconds after the Big Bang. Thus, this type of laboratory research improves our understanding of the early phase of the Universe.

The first Quark Matter conference took place in 1980 in Darmstadt. Since then, the meetings of this series have been organized approximately every 1.5 years. The recent instances were in Jaipur, India (2008), Knoxville, USA (2009), Annecy, France (2011), and Washington DC, USA (2012). The current meeting brings the conference to Darmstadt again, a place with a long-standing tradition of heavy-ion research and is jointly organized by GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH, Technische Universität Darmstadt, and Universität Heidelberg.

The scientific programme of Quark Matter 2014 includes numerous topics such as QCD at high temperature and densities, Jets, Open Heavy Flavour and Quarkonia and Electromagnetic Probes. Moreover, the collective dynamics appearing in QGP system and the relations with other strongly coupled systems will be covered along with issues related to correlations and fluctuations and the hadron chemistry. Last but not least, the newest theoretical developments will be discussed during the conference as well as the plans for future experimental facilities and developments in the instrumentation.

ALICE presented a wealth of scientific results with 31 parallel talks and one plenary talk. In addition, in the special poster session ALICE participates with 90 posters reflecting the experiment’s rich scientific programme.

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The efficient operation of the ALICE detector and the hard work of the ALICE physics working groups were essential ingredients in getting all these results. In the last few weeks, physicists have been very busy with a series of preview and approval sessions during which all the results are scrutinized and the experiment’s last findings are discussed. Last but not least it is worth mentioning that more than one third of the participants in QM2014 are members of the ALICE Collaboration echoing the importance of ALICE studies in the field of ultrarelativistic heavy-ion collisions.

Quark Matter 2014 will be hosted in Darmstadium convention center, named in honor of the chemical element with atomic number 110 that was discovered in Darmstadt in 1994.

The organizers also welcome students’ active participation, which they think is essential for a good conference. Financial support will be provided for a limited number of applicants while a series of introductory lectures will be offered during the Student Day on Sunday, May 18, 2014. More than 300 students have already registered for the event that will be held in GSI and ALICE juniors are encouraged to participate.

We are looking forward to Quark Matter 2014 and finding out more about the latest developments in our field as the LHC is preparing for the next run at 13 TeV.