by John Harris. Published: 13 October 2012

The Quark Matter 2012 International Conference was held in Washington DC on August 13 – 18, 2012. This year’s Conference highlighted results following the second Pb-Pb run at the LHC and from the most recent Au-Au, U-U, Cu-Au and Beam Energy Scan runs at RHIC. Theoretical presentations were also prominent providing various predictions, explanations and interpretations of data. The rich harvest of high quality experimental results from PHENIX and STAR at RHIC and those from ALICE, ATLAS and CMS at the LHC provided rich insight into the behavior of quarks and gluons under the extreme conditions of high temperature and density.

Participants in the Quark Matter Conference 2012. Smile!

The Quark Matter Conference features new results in the field of high-energy heavy ion collisions and is held every one-to-two years. The Conference follows a long tradition dating back to 1980, with venues along the way in ten different countries. The primary topics of the Conference include Pre-equilibrium and Initial State Dynamics, Global and Collective Dynamics, Jets, Heavy Flavor and Quarkonia, Correlations and Fluctuations, Electro-weak Probes, Hadron Thermodynamics and Chemistry, QCD at Finite Temperature, New Theoretical Developments, Exploring the QCD Phase Diagram, New Developments in Experiment, and the Future. The overall attendance at Quark Matter 2012 was 680 scientists and students.

This year’s Quark Matter Conference was organized into 6 half-day plenary sessions, and a total of 17 parallel sessions plus a poster session. These included 214 oral presentations (47 in plenary sessions), and 307 posters presented from a total of 603 submitted abstracts. ALICE submitted a total of 112 abstracts for oral and poster presentations. There were 8 talks in plenary sessions on results from ALICE, 28 parallel session talks and 43 poster presentations. The plenary presentations were given by Karel Safarik on the highlights from ALICE, Sergei Voloshin on flow, Andreas Morsch on jet spectra and structure, Marian Ivanov on identified particle spectra, Zaida Conesa del Valle on heavy flavor results, Enrico Scomparin on quarkonia, Andrew Adare on correlations, and a flash talk by Marta Verweij on charged jet spectra. Marta’s talk was one of 8 flash talks selected for plenary presentation from among the 307 poster presentations. ALICE’s own Martin Wilde was selected for the Nuclear Physics A Young Scientist Award for the Best Experimental talk at Quark Matter 2012, which was on direct photons from ALICE. Congratulations to both Marta and Martin for their outstanding and well-deserved efforts at Quark Matter.

A Student Day (for graduate students and young postdocs) and a Teachers’ Day (for high school teachers) preceded the Conference with sessions held in parallel. These were aimed at introductory and summary presentations of topics in the field at levels appropriate to the more than 300 student and teacher attendees of those sessions.

John Harris, surrounded by students during the QM12 conference

In general, the Conference appeared to be a rousing success as much new physics was presented and lively discussions broke out sometimes beyond control. All attendees and sessions took place in the historic Washington Omni-Shoreham Hotel, which was extremely spacious and comfortable encouraging communication between all attendees. The Conference Reception was a gala affair with food, drink and music at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Portrait Gallery. All in all, the Conference was enjoyable and of benefit to all who attended and for the field. The "QM2012 Staff" T-Shirts, provided to student helpers and QM staff, were in great demand and are still valuable commodities!

We can now look forward to the next Quark Matter Conference, which will be held in Darmstadt, Germany, from 19-24 May in 2014.

For the full program, slides, photos and videos of the presentations at Quark Matter 2012, visit QM12 webpage