The European Physical Society, through its Nuclear Physics Division, has awarded the Lise Meitner Prize 2014 jointly to Prof. Johanna Stachel (Physikalisches Institut der Universität Heidelberg, Germany), Prof. Peter Braun-Munzinger (GSI, Germany), Dr. Paolo Giubellino (INFN Torino, Italy and CERN, Switzerland) and to Dr. Jürgen Schukraft (CERN, Switzerland). The prize is given every two years for outstanding work in the fields of experimental, theoretical or applied nuclear science.
The prize was awarded "for their outstanding contributions to the experimental exploration of the quark-gluon plasma using ultra-relativistic nucleus-nucleus collisions, in particular to the design and construction of ALICE and shaping its physics program and scientific results bringing to light unique and unexpected features of a deconfined state of strongly-interacting matter at the highest temperatures ever produced in the laboratory."
The Quark-Gluon Plasma (QGP) is the state of deconfined and thermalized QCD matter at high temperature. It is a fundamentally new state of matter that permeated the early universe after the electro-weak phase transition, i.e. from picoseconds to about ten microseconds after the Big Bang. The unambiguous proof of its existence and the precise determination of its properties including critical temperature, degrees of freedom, speed of sound, and, in general, transport coefficients, advances our understanding of QCD as a genuine multi-particle theory. In addition, complex issues such as deconfinement and chiral symmetry restoration are closely related. This field uniquely bridges nuclear and particle physics with connections to astrophysics and cosmology. Nucleus-nucleus collisions at high energies offer the only way to create matter under extreme conditions of energy density, pressure and temperature in the laboratory.
The aim of ALICE as one of the large-scale experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN is the investigation of such a state of matter. The first period of LHC data taking has just been completed bringing to light unique and unexpected features of a deconfined state of strongly interacting matter at the highest temperatures ever produced in the laboratory. Striking highlights of results from ALICE include the bulk production of charmonium exhibiting novel mechanisms of hadronization; jet-quenching, with an unexpected momentum dependence of the production of identified particles at high momentum; substantial heavy-quark energy loss, as seen via the topological reconstruction of charmed D mesons; and the production of antimatter and antihypernuclei. Also the field of lattice QCD has strongly benefitted from these new and exciting results.
Johanna Stachel, Peter Braun-Munzinger, Paolo Giubellino and Jürgen Schukraft have made outstanding contributions to the development of this field, in particular to the design and construction of ALICE and shaping its physics program and scientific results.
Lise Meitner Prize
EPS Nuclear Physics Division