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The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory is a world-class scientific research facility that began operation in 2000, following 10 years of development and construction. Hundreds of physicists from around the world use RHIC to study what the universe may have looked like in the first few moments after its creation. RHIC drives two intersecting beams of gold ions head-on, in a subatomic collision. What physicists learn from these collisions may help us understand more about why the physical world works the way it does, from the smallest subatomic particles, to the largest stars.