Some time in December, the newly constructed Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory is expected to produce collisions between gold ions, each with 100 GeV/nucleon, providing twice that energy in the collision. Energy densities at least ten times higher than in ordinary nuclear matter are expected to be reached. With RHIC, experimenters hope to observe the phase transition from ordinary nuclear matter to a quark‐gluon plasma, a decon‐fined state of quarks and gluons. If the experiments succeed, RHIC will have produced the inverse of the phase transition from deconfined quarks and gluons to ordinary hadronic matter that occurred a few microseconds after the Big Bang, when the universe was at a temperature of 150‐200 MeV.

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