Scope of the meeting

Hot and dense nuclear matter plays an important role in the quark-hadron transition shortly after the big bang, in the element production in stars and the interior of neutron stars. The properties of such matter under extreme conditions can be studied in heavy-ion collisions.

Several countries operate facilities or have plans to build new accelerator systems to investigate hot and dense nuclear matter in heavy-ion collisions. Such facilities are located in RIKEN near Tokyo, at GSI in Darmstadt, at GANIL in Caen and at MSU in East Lansing. For extremly relativistic energies, heavy-ion beams are available at 200 GeV per nucleon in the center of mass system at RHIC (Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider) in Brookhaven and even higher energies will be available at 14 TeV at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) in the ALICE experiment at CERN in Geneva. Erice 2008 "Heavy-Ion Collisions from the Coulomb Barrier to the Quark-Gluon Plasma" will be devoted to the physics at these facilities and will explore future plans at the GSI Darmstadt (FAIR) and at the "Future Isotope Science Facility" at MSU in the States.

Superheavy elements

In recent years, research groups at Dubna together with scientists from Livermore as well as studies at GSI in Darmstadt have pushed the limit of known elements to larger values. Even element 118 might have been discovered. Scientists from Dubna, RIKEN and GSI will report on the newest results in this field.

Liquid-gas phase transition

For heated nuclear matter a liquid-gas phase transition has been predicted for many equations of state using different effective nucleon-nucleon interactions. Although there are indications for such a phase transition in heavy-ion experiments, its occurrence has not yet been established beyond doubt. Reports on recent results from GANIL in France and from the cyclotron laboratory at MSU in the United States are planned to this subject.

Medium modification of hadron properties

In dense and hot nuclear matter hadrons can excite the nuclear medium. In turn, such medium excitations modify the mass and width of the corresponding hadrons. These medium modifications can be detected for instance via electromagnetic probes such as photons or dileptons in heavy-ion collisions. Experimental studies are performed for instance by the HADES collaboration at GSI. Experimental and theoretical talks on such modifications are planned.

Nuclear flow

Properties of nuclear matter can be extracted from the flow of particles during heavy-ion collisions as for example measured in the experiment FOPI or at higher energies at RHIC. One of the central questions is how particles loose their energy in hot and dense nuclear matter and how the quark-hadron transition manifests itself in flow data. Closely related is the question of whether these data can be described by ideal hydrodynamics and what the origin of a low viscosity in the vicinity of the phase boundary is.

Phase transition to the quark gluon plasma

At present RHIC has the highest center of mass energy for ultra-relativistic heavy-ion collisions and several experimental indications for the transition to the quark-gluon plasma have been reported. Starting in about 2009, one can study heavy-ion collisions at center of mass energies of 14 TeV at the LHC in the ALICE experiment . Erice 2008 will devote a large number of talks and afternoon-workshops to the description of relativistic heavy-ion collisions in this collision energy regime and to the possible phase transition to the quark-gluon plasma. An interesting aspect is also possible conclusions from the AdS-CFT duality in conformal field theories and their relevance for observables in heavy-ion collisions.

Future heavy-ion facilities

FAIR at GSI Darmstadt is a multi-purpose facility studying among other areas the properties of nuclear matter, especially at high baryon densities. It is planned that Peter Braun-Munzinger gives a perspective on "Future physics at FAIR" and Konrad Gelbke about the "Future Isotope Science Facility at MSU".

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