A team of New York physicists has managed to smash gold ions into a quark-gluon plasma much like the one believed to have existed in the milliseconds after the Big Bang—and in the process broken the Guinness World Record for the hottest man-made temperature ever recorded. The plasma hit a mind-boggling 7.2 trillion degrees Fahrenheit, the LA Times reports, making it 250,000 times hotter than the core of the sun.
The Brookhaven National Laboratory ran gold ions in both directions through its particle accelerator, smashing them together at speeds so fast that the neutrons and protons in their nuclei "melted," according to the lab's blog. This produced a nearly frictionless fluid, which, interestingly, has also been observed in atoms near absolute zero—that's "10 million trillion times colder than the quark-gluon plasma we create," explained the lead physicist. "We expected to reach these temperatures, but we did not at all anticipate the nearly perfect liquid behavior," he added. (Read more physics stories.)