PREFACE: Hot Quarks 2004

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Why another conference devoted to ultra-relativistic heavy-ion physics? As we looked around the landscape of the existing international conferences and workshops, we realized that there was not a single one tailored to the people who are most directly involved with the actual research work: students, post-docs, and junior faculty/research scientists. Of course there are schools, but that was not what we had in mind. We wanted a meeting where young researchers could come together to discuss in depth the physics that they are working on without any hindrance. The major conferences have very limited time for discussions which is often shared amongst the most established. This leaves little room for young people to ask their questions and to get the detailed feedback which they deserve and which satisfies their curiosity. A discussion-driven workshop, centering on those without whom there will be no future—that seemed like what was needed. And thus the Hot Quarks workshop was born.
The aim of Hot Quarks was to enhance the direct exchange of scientific information among the younger members of the community, from both experiment and theory. Participation was by invitation only in order to emphasize the contributions from junior researchers. This approach makes the workshop unique among the many forums in the field. For young scientists it represented an opportunity for exposure that they would not have had in one of the major conferences. The hope is that this meeting has helped to stimulate the next generation of scientists in our field and, at the same time, strengthened their sense of community.
It all came together from 18 24 July 2004, when the 77 participants met at The Inn at Snakedance in the Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico, USA, for the first Hot Quarks workshop.
Photograph Participants gather in the sunshine at the foot of the Taos Ski Valley chairlift.
By all accounts, Hot Quarks 2004 was a great success. Every participant had the opportunity to present her or his research and we spent an entire week talking physics and having fun from breakfast in the morning until late at night. A symbolic award was instituted for the best presentation at the workshop, dedicated to the memory of Klaus Kinder-Geiger, a sharp and brilliant young theorist who perished in the crash of Swissair Flight 111 on 2 September 1998 off the coast of Nova Scotia. It went to Denesh Molnar from Ohio State University for his outstanding talk on parton coalescence.
The organizers wish to extend their gratitude to all participants for the high quality presentations making Hot Quarks 2004 a notable event. We are also very grateful for the superb hospitality of the staff of the Snakedance Inn, in particular Mitch Daniels who worked sheer miracles. Given the success of the first Hot Quarks workshop we decided to organize a second one, possibly even turning Hot Quarks into a series. The next meeting will be held in the late spring of 2006, probably in Italy. We hope it will be as memorable as the first one!
Last but not least, we wish to thank all the generous sponsors of the conference: Brookhaven National Laboratory, European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Gesellschaft fA~ 1/4 r Schwerionenforschung (GSI), Institute of Physics Publishing, Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Science Foundation, and Vanderbilt University. We are grateful for their support and are particularly happy that this support came from institutions both in the US and in Europe and from all the main experimental facilities that pursue a prominent heavy-ion program. Their support was essential for the success of a workshop targeting young scientists.

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