by Despina Hatzifotiadou. Published: 10 June 2011

Quark Matter 2011 took place in Annecy in May in a lively atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. Close to 800 physicists participated, a substantial percentage of them enthusiastic PhD students. The results of the first heavy ion collisions at LHC and new results from RHIC made QM2011 stand out as particularly exciting.

In addition to the LHC and RHIC experiments, there were also results from previous and current fixed target heavy ion experiments and updates from the theory front. New projects were also presented, covering the low-energy frontier of heavy ion collisions, such as FAIR1 in Darmstadt and NICA2 in Dubna. Proton-ion and electron-ion collider scenarios were discussed, as well as ideas for upgrades of the RHIC experiments and of ALICE.

The message sent to the collaboration immediately after the closing of the conference, by the ALICE spokesman, Paolo Giubellino, co-signed by Jurgen Schukraft, the previous spokesman of 20 years, sums up perfectly QM2011:

“The 2011 Quark Matter Conference has just closed, and it has been a truly amazing one. It was the most exciting Quark Matter in a very long time, thanks in particular to the flood of fresh results from the LHC and new results from RHIC. We have witnessed a major leap forward for our field, with remarkable new insight on the nature of strong interacting matter at extreme densities.

The ALICE results, day after day, through over a 100 talks and posters, have emerged for their quality and for the complete, comprehensive set of information they are able to provide. Wherever you look, from the energy loss of fast quarks to quarkonia, from the details of the dynamical evolution of the system to the very first study of charmed hadrons, to name just a few, the ALICE results stand out for their quality and relevance.

The specificities of ALICE, like its wide pT coverage down to the lowest values and its Particle Identification capability, demonstrated to be crucial for the understanding of the new results. It is amazing that so much could be achieved just a few months after the first HI run.

This is the result of many years of work and dedication of all of us, and we can all be proud of now sharing this remarkable harvest. It has been an enormous effort, but we can now say it was really worth it, and all share the happiness for this wealth of results. We all contributed to this accomplishment, and we should all draw from it even more motivation to go forward!

At QM we could clearly see already a number of very promising lines of work for the near and longer-term future: a lot has been done, even more is ahead of us!”

An interesting issue of the conference organisation was the “flash talks”. Out of the hundreds of posters, presented in two poster sessions, eight were selected for ten minute presentations during a plenary session. It was not an easy task for the lucky “winners”. With the results announced on Thursday evening and the flash talks scheduled for Friday morning, allowing them very little time to prepare – but all presentations were excellent. Out of the eight selected posters two were from ALICE.

Yvonne Pachmayer

The poster by Yvonne Pachmayer, from the Ruprecht-Karl-Universitaet, Heidelberg, on “Measurement of the Nuclear Modification Factor of Electrons from Heavy Flavour Decays at mid-rapidity in Pb-Pb collisions at ?sNN=2.76 TeV with ALICE”.

Natasha Sharma

The poster by Natasha Sharma, from Panjab University, on “Production of nuclei and anti-nuclei in pp and PbPb collisions with ALICE at the LHC”.

In addition, Stefan Heckel, from the Goethe Universtity of Frankfurt, received the “Nuclear Physics A Young Scientist Award for best experimental talk at Quark Matter 2011” for his talk on “Event-by-event mean pT fluctuations in pp and Pb-Pb collisions measured by the ALICE experiment at the LHC”.

The next Quark Matter 2012 will take place in Washington DC in August next year; John Harris gave a preview of the conference venue and planned activities. We will be looking forward to more exciting results.

  • 1. FAIR: Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research
  • 2. NICA: the Nuclotron-based Ion Collider fAcility