Theoretical Physics Colloquium
Supercomputing the properties of the quark-gluon plasma
by Prof. Prasad Hegde (Centre for High Energy Physics, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore)
Tuesday, May 2, 2017 from to (Asia/Kolkata)
The quark-gluon plasma is a new state of nuclear matter that exists at very high temperatures. Today, it is routinely created at high energy colliders round the world by colliding heavy nuclei at energies 10-1000 times their rest mass. The quark-gluon plasma differs from ordinary nuclear matter in certain striking ways for e.g. quarks and gluons are not confined but can move about freely, and the broken chiral symmetry of QCD is restored. Lattice QCD is a technique for numerically solving QCD, the theory of the strong nuclear force, using powerful supercomputers. Lattice calculations were the first to provide support for the conjecture of the quark-gluon plasma before it was discovered, and lattice QCD has helped understand several of its properties over the last thirty years. In this talk, I will describe what we have learnt so far and what are the challenges that still remain. Some challenges, like determining the QCD critical point, can be tackled in principle but are computationally extremely intensive. Others, like the determination of the shear viscosity and other transport coefficients, will require a combination of large-scale computation as well as algorithmic advances in order to be feasible.