We're Doomed: Scientists Set Record for Hottest Temperature Ever in Experiment Dubbed "PHENIX"

It's official: You are no longer allowed to complain.

Sure, it's 112 degrees outside, but at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, scientists were able to set a new record for the world's hottest temperature: a plasma measured at 7.2 trillion degrees Fahrenheit.

That's 250,000 times hotter than the center of the sun.

To create the plasma, Brookhaven scientists turned to the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), which pushes particles together (not unlike the machine in the Progressive Insurance commercials) and recreates conditions that haven't existed since the beginning of time.

"When RHIC collides gold ions at nearly the speed of light, the impact energy becomes so intense that the neutrons and protons inside the gold nuclei "melt," releasing fundamental quarks and gluons that then form a nearly friction-free primordial plasma that only existed in Nature about a millionth of one second after the Big Bang," write the scientists on the Brookhaven blog. "RHIC discovered this primordial, liquid-like quark-gluon plasma and measured its temperature at around 4 trillion degrees Celsius."

The experiment, aply named PHENIX, was able to isolate quark-gluon plasma that makes up the elementary particles we know today as protons, neutrons, and electrons.

In the RHIC, which is a 2.4-mile ring, ions (or positively or negatively charged atoms) are sent around the ring at near the speed of light and collide in an attempt to recreate the conditions of the Big Bang.

In PHENIX, scientists sent gold ions around the ring in opposite directions. They collided in one of the six chambers around the RHIC. The result was a very short-lived appearance of the very hot quark-gluon plasma (called Hot Quark Soup in the video below), which earned the scientists a Guinness World Record and the citizens of the world a much-needed excuse for a pint of Guinness.


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Claire Lawton
Contact: Claire Lawton