Simulation of a collision between two gold ions
Two of the first papers to describe the “perfect” liquid created in near-light-speed collisions of gold ions at Brookhaven Lab’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) have each been cited more than 1,000 times in scientific literature.
The papers made headlines in 2005 when they were published in Nuclear Physics A by members of the PHENIX and STAR collaborations along with papers by RHIC’s other two experiments, BRAHMS and PHOBOS. At RHIC, the scientists created a new, surprising state of hot, dense matter out of quarks and gluons — the building blocks of atomic nuclei. The unexpected result: instead of behaving like a gas, as predicted, this early-universe matter behaves more like a liquid — a “perfect” liquid with virtually no viscosity, or resistance to flow.
The database that tracks papers in high-energy physics (SPIRES) contains a total of just more than 350 papers throughout history — much less than 0.1 percent of the total papers recorded — that have surpassed 1,000 citations.
High-impact papers like these have made Brookhaven the top institution in the world for hadron collider research, as recently named by ScienceWatch.com, a division of the Thomson Reuters organization. The designation, given in November 2010, is based on the total number of citations of BNL’s hadron research in scientific papers during the last 10 years.