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Beyond the Big Bang – The Versatility of RHIC

Researcher at RHIC's STAR detector

Researcher at RHIC's STAR detector

The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), a particle accelerator commissioned at Brookhaven in 2000, supports an extensive program of research exploring the fundamental nature of matter. Financed by the U.S. Department of Energy with significant contributions from Japan and other nations, it is one of the world's most powerful accelerators, and is the only collider now operating in the U.S. RHIC recreates the conditions that existed just after the Big Bank so scientists can study the fundamental particles that make up nearly all visible matter in the universe – everything from stars to planets to people – and how Nature's strongest force holds this matter together.

RHIC is also a key driver of technological, educational, and economic advancement for the regional economy (see story below). The research conducted at this facility attracts the World's "best and brightest," and trains a high-tech workforce to address scientific and technical challenges with widespread impact on communications, energy technologies, national security, medicine, and more.

Building off the capabilities of facilities first developed to support RHIC, the Brookhaven Linac Isotope Producer (BLIP) is one of just two accelerator facilities in the U.S. that develop and produce medical isotopes. The strong demand for these isotopes is evidenced by the fact that the need for an isotope widely used in heart scans - strontium 82 - now exceeds the capacity of existing production facilities at BNL and Los Alamos National Lab. 

The capabilities developed around RHIC have also been instrumental in the development of a new type of particle therapy. This new technology involves use of a rapidly-cycling medical synchrotron to target tumors more precisely than currently possible. Scientists and engineers are working on detailed designs for the new machine.

2013-3647  |  INT/EXT  |  Media & Communications Office

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