Friday, June 06, 2008

The Four Phases of PHOBOS

Of course I'm still catching up with last week, partly due to distractions this week, and partly since it took a few days for the organizers to post all of the talks from the RHIC Users Meeting. One talk which was particularly significant to me was "The Four Phases of PHOBOS" by Wit Busza from MIT, who has been spokesman of the PHOBOS experiment at RHIC since its inception in the early 1990s. He was even spokesman before PHOBOS was even a proposal, back when it was a conceptual design called "MARS", shown here to the right, which eventually became the PHOBOS experiment (side note: while MARS was actually an acronym, PHOBOS never was, even if it was presented like one). And he was there all the way through it's first incarnation as a working experiment, even in pieces (see left), through its "golden age" from 2000-2005 as a working active experiment (below), and even now as the collaboration is still analyzing the data and writing papers despite the experiment being completely disassembled.

In fact, it was also notable that last week was when PHOBOS was finally taken from BNL and brought to MIT by van (see loading photos below), where various sections will be shipped to the participating institutions -- the physics equivalent of a hunting trophy. Of course this is kind of like a hunter mounting a gun on the wall instead of the deer. Too bad you can't put a "perfect fluid" (or whatever) on the wall -- since, although small, we were an active participant in that hunt since the very beginning.

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