by Rosi Reed & Megan Connors. Published: 18 December 2012

The 5th Hot Quarks conference was held from October 14-20 in Copamarina, Puerto Rico. Hot Quarks is a workshop for young scientists who are interested in ultra-relativistic heavy-ion collisions. ALICE participation at the conference was great, with 25 of the 72 young scientists coming from our experiment. The other LHC experiments and the RHIC experiments as well as JLab and the theory community were all represented at the meeting.

Hot Quarks is a unique workshop, both in participation and in format. A person must qualify as a young scientist in order to participate in the conference and every participant gives an oral presentation. This gives early career scientists in heavy-ion physics an opportunity to present their work and share their ideas with their peers. More importantly, this allows a more open discussion of these ideas in a relaxed setting without the pressure of having older experts in the audience. To facilitate this discussion, the unique format of the workshop plays a large role. Every session is a plenary session, so that participants can hear every talk. After each session of four or so talks there is an hour-long discussion period. People can ask directly questions to the speakers or anonymously by writing their questions on slips of paper that are shuffled in a shoe box and asked during the discussion period. Many topics were covered, from hydrodynamics to hard probes, from AdS/CFT to lattice QCD. Much of the discussion was focused on understanding and extending the results that were shown two months previously at Quark Matter, one of the largest conferences in the field of heavy-ion physics.

Visiting the Arecibo Observatory during the 5th Hot Quarks conference that was held in Copamarina, Puerto Rico.

One of the goals of the workshop is to build connections between the attendees so the location of the workshop is chosen carefully. The workshop is held in locales that are somewhat isolated; this helps build a sense of community within the workshop. The 5th Hot Quarks conference followed this tradition with its location at the Copamarina beach resort in Puerto Rico. We also took a tour of the telescope at Arecibo, the world's largest single dish telescope, and met the director of the lab who explained the history and physics of Arecibo.

Hot Quarks conference attendees.ALICE participation at the conference was great, with 25 of the 72 young scientists coming from our experiment.

The conference concluded with an awards ceremony and dinner. The best presentation is given the Klaus Kinder-Geiger award. This year's award went to Dragos Velicanu who presented the first p-Pb results from CMS, a taste of the interesting physics that is scheduled to come out of the LHC early next year.

The slides presented at the conference are all available through the conference website along with pictures of all the speakers and festivities.