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RHIC Finds Symmetry Transformations In Quark Soup 140

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the better-than-mom's dept.
eldavojohn writes "Today scientists at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) in Brookhaven National Laboratory revealed new observations after creating a 'quark soup' that revealed hints of profound symmetry transformations when collisions create conditions in which temperatures reach four trillion degrees Celsius. A researcher explains the implications, 'RHIC's collisions of heavy nuclei at nearly light speed are designed to re-create, on a tiny scale, the conditions of the early universe. These new results thus suggest that RHIC may have a unique opportunity to test in the laboratory some crucial features of symmetry-altering bubbles speculated to have played important roles in the evolution of the infant universe.' These new findings hint at violations of mirror symmetry or parity by witnessing asymmetric charge separation in these collisions."
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RHIC Finds Symmetry Transformations In Quark Soup

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  • Delicious (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 15, 2010 @01:59PM (#31146294)

    Delicious first post soup

    • by courteaudotbiz (1191083) on Monday February 15, 2010 @02:01PM (#31146330) Homepage
      But at 4 trillion degrees Celcius, isn't it a bit hot?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by algormortis (1422619)
        4 trillion Celsius refers to the collisions, not the temperature of the collider. At that small scale, it's not exactly "hot". Now if it were 4,000,000,000,273 Kelvin, then THAT would be hot.
        • by Khashishi (775369)

          I can't figure out if you are trying to make a joke or something, but those two values are the same, and they are both very, very hot.

      • by martas (1439879)
        mmmm, quark soup... [drools]
      • by damburger (981828)
        I'm studying physics, and I've no idea how hot that is because in particle accelerators you use electronvolts instead of kelvins to measure particle speed. Science journalism is so bad sometimes that the more actual science you know the more confusing the reports about it are.
        • I'm studying physics, and I've no idea how hot that is because in particle accelerators you use electronvolts instead of kelvins to measure particle speed. Science journalism is so bad sometimes that the more actual science you know the more confusing the reports about it are.

          Brookhaven National Laboratory isn't a journalistic organization they're a scientific research organization and what they are referring to is the blackbody radiation [wikipedia.org] from the quark-gluon liquid, the "light" or photons given off are a "color" wavelengths and power spectra that would be produced by a black body heated to 4 trillion C.

          • by damburger (981828)

            Don't dare patronise me. I sincerely doubt they internally work in Kelvins, and I am absolutely certain they do not work in degrees C. The fact is the photons given off by the particles will also have their energies measured in electronvolts. Having to work backwards from the blackbody spectrum constantly would be a major pain in the arse.

            Oh, and this is a press release; so it is quite clearly an example of science journalism, even if it is published by a science institution.

            If you understood the subject ma

    • And which one of you wanted the clean glass?

    • Waiter! (Score:2, Funny)

      by rolandog (834340)

      There is or there isn't a hair in my quantum soup!

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Next thing you know, they'll be telling us it was made by the world's most powerful soup nazi.

  • Well, duh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

    Everyone knows that there is a slight asymmetry tending towards particles rather than anti-particles. It's common sense. It's the reason why the universe exists as matter rather thant antimatter.

    • by dreamchaser (49529) on Monday February 15, 2010 @02:12PM (#31146446) Homepage Journal

      Yes but they do not know why, and research such as this may help reveal something about that.

      We've known you need air to live for millenia and some short sighted folk back then probably said 'duh' too. Others tried to find out why. Now we know why. Are we better off not knowing?

      • According to Arkham's Razor, we might be.

        Arkham's Razor: A theory which suggests that the simplest explanation tends to lead to Cthulhu. I wish I could take credit for coming up with that one, but I can't.

      • That depends. Finding out why we need air to breathe didn't entail the possibility of ripping a hole in the space time continuum, with dire consequences for the solar system, the galaxy, and possibly the local universe. My money is on a certain percentage of Gamma Ray Bursters [molvray.com] being the signature of an advancing civilization snuffing out its first really high energy particle accelerator, and its planet, and that the effects are localized to the vaporization of the planet or solar system. Since we're cond
        • by jeff4747 (256583)

          Your theory would be interesting, if stronger collisions hadn't already been observed from natural sources.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Chris Burke (6130)

          Finding out why we need air to breathe didn't entail the possibility of ripping a hole in the space time continuum, with dire consequences for the solar system, the galaxy, and possibly the local universe

          Are you sure? We only know that it didn't happen, not that it wasn't a risk!

          I'm just pointing this out so when the LHC fails to destroy the earth, you can say it was a possibility we lucked out on and not just uninformed paranoia. :)

          My money is on a certain percentage of Gamma Ray Bursters being the signat

        • Show me the possibility of ripping a hole in the space time continuum with the puny (yes, puny, very puny compared to many cosmic sources) energies we are using? Junk science can make for entertaining yarns, but it's hardly something to be worried about.

      • Yes but they do not know why, and research such as this may help reveal something about that.

        We've known you need air to live for millenia and some short sighted folk back then probably said 'duh' too. Others tried to find out why. Now we know why. Are we better off not knowing?

        Anti-matter is just regular matter moving backward in time so wouldn't it have all (except for a small fraction produced by high-energy collisions) been destroyed at the big bang instead of being created?

    • Re:Well, duh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hansraj (458504) on Monday February 15, 2010 @02:13PM (#31146458)

      Clearly we should abandon all science and just go with whatever our common sense tells us.

      Is symmetry breaking fundamental to the conditions in early universe, or is it just that we don't have big chunk of anti-matter nearby?

      If it is indeed fundamental, what causes it? You have a bunch of theories predicting that it is fundamental but the mechanisms of each theory are ever so slightly different. How are we supposed to test which ones are wrong if we don't go about doing these experiments?

      Those were just two questions off the top of my head. I am sure there are others.

      Maybe you were just going for funny mods but every time there is a story about fundamental physics someone jumps in to say that it is pointless.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by amRadioHed (463061)

        I think the idea that we just don't have a big chunk of anti-matter nearby has been pretty much ruled out. If there were big chunks of anti-matter somewhere in the universe, then there would be border areas where they meet big chunks of regular matter and that should be very easy to spot.

        • by khallow (566160)

          If there were big chunks of anti-matter somewhere in the universe, then there would be border areas where they meet big chunks of regular matter and that should be very easy to spot.

          Unless the border region were beyond our horizon of observation.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by JoshuaZ (1134087)
          No multiple problems with that. For example, if the inflationary hypothesis is correct or some variant thereof then the universe is much larger than the observable universe so we might not just see the border areas. Also, matter is sufficiently spread out that this late in the universe serious collisions between the two would be rare, so as long as separate galaxies are either matter or anti-matter, we would see very little evidence of it. There are, as I understand it, more subtle ideas that suggest a true
          • by Chris Burke (6130)

            You have a point with expansion and the size of the universe... But as far as not seeing ones "this late" in the universe... When we look at extremely distant galaxies we're also looking at extremely ancient ones. Hubble's record is galaxies only 600 million years after the Big Bang. No signs of matter/anti-matter galaxy collisions at that time or more recently as of yet.

    • by bsDaemon (87307) on Monday February 15, 2010 @02:27PM (#31146604)
      How do we know that we aren't the anti-matter and that what we think is anti-matter is really matter? Not so common sense, is it?
      • Because we found matter first, probably because there's more of it and we're made of it. Semantics, linguistics, that's all...
        • by bsDaemon (87307)
          but what about the anti-matter people? What if there are more of them? they could each touch one of us, destroy everyone, and they'd have more left over, so they'd win...
          • There doesn't seem to be enough anti-matter in the observable universe for that to be a problem, which is kinda the point of all of this. We're trying to sort out how exactly it is that matter, at least in the observable universe, outweighs antimatter by many orders of magnitude.

            • There doesn't seem to be enough anti-matter in the observable universe for that to be a problem

              All of a sudden I had this really cool image of two galaxies colliding, one made of anti-matter the other of regular matter.

              Biiiig badaboom!

      • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Monday February 15, 2010 @03:08PM (#31147110)

        How do we know that we aren't the anti-matter and that what we think is anti-matter is really matter?

        We know because most of us are not wearing goatees.

        • by martas (1439879)
          so does that mean that if France came into contact with another country, there'd be a burst of gamma rays so intense that it would eventually wipe out half the galaxy?
        • by lennier (44736)

          How do we know that we aren't the anti-matter and that what we think is anti-matter is really matter?

          We know because most of us are not wearing goatees.

          Speak for yourself. *I* come from the planet which worked out how to kill millions of people in a neat airdroppable package.

          Isn't that what the Apollo plaque says? "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the Moon... we came to bring terror to all the galaxy. Muhahahaha!"

      • It's irrelevant if you call us matter or anti-matter. We have defined matter as the stuff we are made out of, and anti-matter, it's opposite that we don't find any of.

        We look all around the universe and only see matter, i.e. all the stars, planets, gas, and blackholes that we see are made out of matter. If there was even a little bit of anti-matter it would annihilate with interstellar or intergalactic gas immediately. It's incredibly hard to create lasting quantities of anti-matter, since you have to keep

      • How do we know that we aren't the anti-matter and that what we think is anti-matter is really matter? Not so common sense, is it?

        Erm... Because we invented the arbitrary labels "matter" and "anti-matter", and they have little to do with the Universe and much more to do with our internal thinking apparatus and the ways we interface them with each other (talking, writing, etc.)...

    • by mhajicek (1582795)
      Unless they got it backwards and what we call matter is really antimatter... (sarcasm)
    • by Ragzouken (943900)

      If the universe existed as antimatter that would indicate the same asymmetry.

    • How do we know other galaxies and stars are not anti-matter. It's not like we can touch them and find out.
      Would it not be likely that thermal explosions could have sorted the two into far flung clumps in the early days of the universe.
      Interactions might not be observed if all of the clumps are already flying away from each other.
      • by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:01PM (#31148494)

        Galaxies collide a lot. You'd expect at least one of the collisions which we can observe to be antimatter-matter, but it hasn't happened. And it would be REALLY easy to tell if it did.

        • I think it may be no so obvious... think of it, galaxies that collide are probably from the same local group, so that we don't see matter/anti-matter collisions shouldn't be strange.

          I'll put a car analogy (in fact, the only reason of this post is to put the analogy): you are in Berlin a send a group of electric cars in a journey to Lisbon, and a group of diesel cars in a journey from Lisbon (and you go with them). Then you analize the crashes that happened in the journey, and since there are no signs of a c

          • by amorsen (7485)

            We can see galaxies from way back in time, there's no way we could miss it.

        • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
          Not necessarily. Galactic collisions rarely involve actual collision of substantial amounts of mass. Most galactic collisions have the stars and other big objects never get anywhere near each other. The galaxies are deformed afterwords purely by gravitational effects. We can conclude from this that it is a) extremely unlikely for a chunk hypothesis and b) for anti-matter to have a repulsive gravitational effect on matter. But we've pretty close to completely ruled out b already.
          • by amorsen (7485)

            The gas/dust clouds would collide, even though few stars do. Detectable. And if even two stars did collide, the explosion would be unlike anything we've seen so far. Impossible to miss.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        How do we know other galaxies and stars are not anti-matter. It's not like we can touch them and find out. Would it not be likely that thermal explosions could have sorted the two into far flung clumps in the early days of the universe. Interactions might not be observed if all of the clumps are already flying away from each other.

        The only way to tell matter from anti-matter at a distance is to observe their neutrino emissions. Anti-matter objects will preferentially emit neutrinos in the direction of spin of the baryons (the majority of which spin in the same direction as the containing object assuming a magnetic field.) while matter objects will emit them preferentially in the opposite direction.

        • How do we know other galaxies and stars are not anti-matter. It's not like we can touch them and find out. Would it not be likely that thermal explosions could have sorted the two into far flung clumps in the early days of the universe. Interactions might not be observed if all of the clumps are already flying away from each other.

          The only way to tell matter from anti-matter at a distance is to observe their neutrino emissions. Anti-matter objects will preferentially emit neutrinos in the direction of spin of the baryons (the majority of which spin in the same direction as the containing object assuming a magnetic field.) while matter objects will emit them preferentially in the opposite direction.

          Actually, anti-matter stars emit neutrinos while ordinary matter stars emit anti-neutrinos, so if you can tell them apart and where they came from, it would make things a lot easier.

    • by lennier (44736)

      Everyone knows that there is a slight asymmetry tending towards particles rather than anti-particles. It's common sense. It's the reason why the universe exists as matter rather thant antimatter.

      Do we? I thought maybe they were exactly equal, and there'd been a huge bang when matter and antimatter annihilated themselves and we were a tiny local cluster of matter bits which got missed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by damburger (981828)

      Common sense? You can't apply your meatbrain savanna instincts to cosmic scale problems such as the composition of the universe. To quote Terry Pratchett's grim reaper, "YOU ARE NOTHING MORE THAN A LUCKY SPECIES OF APE THAT IS TRYING TO UNDERSTAND THE COMPLEXITIES OF CREATION VIA A LANGUAGE THAT EVOLVED IN ORDER TO TELL ONE ANOTHER WHERE THE RIPE FRUIT WAS"

      You've not strayed from current physics knowledge here, but your reason for supporting sounds kind of flimsy.

  • by CorporateSuit (1319461) on Monday February 15, 2010 @02:09PM (#31146414)
    Some left-handed scientist just discovered that when puoS krauQ is cut through, it turns out symmetrical.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      puoS krauQ

      Qapla'!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by EdZ (755139)
      I read that as 'Soup Quark'. Undiscovered partner to the Crouton Quark?
  • That wily ferengi finally found some way to cook up Odo and serve him as a soup.
  • by wisebabo (638845) on Monday February 15, 2010 @02:13PM (#31146456) Journal

    Any particle physicists out there who can tell (us) if this thing can make "strangelets"? I mean, I kinda buy the explanations of how the LHC won't make mini-black holes or if it does they will instantly "evaporate" but: 4 trillion degrees? Approximating the conditions not seen since the first billionth trillionth of a second (or something like that) of the big bang? And don't tell me that Nature regularly collides gold nuclei together in this fashion; they're not cosmic rays!

    While we're at it, are "strangelets" (or strange matter) real, I mean are they a proven particle? (And if so, how did they prove their existence without supposedly creating any?) Anyway, if this thing does make (one) and the planet gets converted into a glob of it, hopefully it'll happen at the speed of light so we won't feel anything.

    Also the phrase "symmetry-altering bubbles" when used in conjunction with the phrase "evolution of the infant UNIVERSE" makes me wonder just a little if they really want to be playing around with this stuff. At least I'm pretty sure that if a false vacuum bubble is created, it'll expand at the speed of light and we definitely won't feel a thing!

    - I actually love science and physics and have full confidence in these guys. It's fun to be paranoid every now and then though.

    • by chrylis (262281) on Monday February 15, 2010 @03:04PM (#31147068)

      I'm not currently a research physicist, but I'm a (prior) collaborator on the experiment in question.

      No "strangelet" has ever been observed, and their behavior depends on certain parameters that are unknown... because they've never been observed. It's reasonable to guess at this point that the strangelet-eats-the-world scenario is probably bogus just due to the anthropic principle.

      The concern over the eating-the-world scenario was allayed to physicists' satisfaction based on calculations about cosmic rays. The kinds of collisions that would produce strangelets happen constantly to the moon because of the lack of an atmosphere or magnetic field to shield it, and the moon's still there. Statistics suggest, therefore, that these particular concerns are unlikely to be realized.

      • by lennier (44736) on Monday February 15, 2010 @06:27PM (#31149604) Homepage

        The concern over the eating-the-world scenario was allayed to physicists' satisfaction based on calculations about cosmic rays. The kinds of collisions that would produce strangelets happen constantly to the moon because of the lack of an atmosphere or magnetic field to shield it, and the moon's still there. Statistics suggest, therefore, that these particular concerns are unlikely to be realized.

        Or that the moon itself is part of the conspiracy! It got eaten by a giant strangelet millions of years ago and it's been watching us all this time. Pretending to be nothing more than a rock.

        Think about it, people. How did we manage to fake the Apollo landings so easily? Because the moon was in on it!

    • by mhajicek (1582795) on Monday February 15, 2010 @03:12PM (#31147160)

      And don't tell me that Nature regularly collides gold nuclei together in this fashion; they're not cosmic rays!

      Consider the particle collisions near the event horizon of a black hole; they're likely to occur at much higher energies.

      "Energies at the Large Hadron Collider are likely to peak at 14 teraelectronvolts. In contrast, the energies around a black hole would theoretically be limitless, says West. However, you needn't go beyond the so-called "Planck energy" - the point at which our mathematical understanding of particle interactions, in particular gravity, breaks down at the quantum level. This energy is in the order of 1018 gigaelectronvolts - 100 trillion times more energetic than the LHC." - http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327253.800-black-holes-are-the-ultimate-particle-smashers.html [newscientist.com]

        1. Energies at the Large Hadron Collider are likely to peak at 14 teraelectronvolts

        2. breaks down at the quantum level. This energy is in the order of 1018 gigaelectronvolts

        3. 100 trillion times more energetic than the LHC

        If I convert all those frighteningly big numbers to scientific notation, I get:

        1. 1.40 E 13
        2. 1.02 E 12
        3. 1.00 E 14 * 1.40 E 13 = 1.4 E 27

        The parent is saying that the LHC puts out about 10x as much energy as that at which we lose all idea of what's happening. He's also saying that 1.02 e 12 is 100 trillion times 1.4 E 13. Something is not right here. Anyone care to set him/me/us straight?

    • by Progman3K (515744)

      if this thing does make (one) and the planet gets converted into a glob of it, hopefully it'll happen at the speed of light so we won't feel anything.

      There are those who believe that if these accelerators ever do create the exotic matter we are looking for the universe will instantly be replaced by something strange and inexplicable.

      There are those who believe this has already happened.

  • "four trillion degrees Celsius"

    When you're talking "trillions," there's really not much difference between degrees Celsius and kelvins. And all "four trillion degrees Celsius" means to the layman is "really fucking hot."

    So... why not just "4 terakelvins?" Or is it exakelvins?

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      As you point out, anyone who knows what a Kelvin is can easily do an accurate enough conversion. If the article did use Kelvin then everybody who doesn't know what a Kelvin is would be lost. Is that really hot? Cold? In the middle?

      • by Anpheus (908711)

        Well sure but it's a lot easier to say 4 trillion Celsius than "Four trillion two hundred seventy three point one five degrees Kelvin."

    • by sexconker (1179573) on Monday February 15, 2010 @03:14PM (#31147202)

      That's way too many Kevins!
      But I guess it's better than having none at all.

      My home town nearly went to zero Kevins back in 1978.

      It was a particularly cold winter, and we were already down to 3 Kevins (due to their low popularity at the time).

      Kevin Thomas had flown out to be with his son's family for a wedding and got stuck in Boston for a whole week due to the weather. 2 Kevins left.

      Kevin Lemmer was rushed to the hospital during my shift. I still remember the call from the EMTs as the ambulance was rushing toward us. "It's Lemmer. He's in bad shape. Drove right into the fucking ditch." We called the time of death at 6:15 PM.

      At 6:16, all eyes turned to room 2217. Kevin Spencer was 82 and on his death bed with leukemia. His family being Catholic, he had already been given his last writes. If he couldn't hold out until Kevin Thomas returned, we would be at zero Kevins. Sure, we had 4 perfectly healthy Calvins, but they're just not the same.

      It was 7:15 when Carla Brooks and her husband James burst through the main entrance. "She's not due for 2 weeks!", James exclaimed. As the staff bustled around getting the Brookses settled, they exchanged darting glances with each other. This was their first child, and they wanted to keep the baby's sex a secret. Of course, in a small town, secrets don't get kept. Nearly all of the hospital staff new that the child about to rip open Mrs. Brooks was indeed a boy.

      The delivery was routine, and Kevin Brooks was born healthy, if a tad underweight, at 10:52 PM. Kevin Spencer was pronounced dead at 10:54.

      It was, as they say, a close one. Kevin Thomas arrived two days later, the weather having finally cleared up. To this day, we still rib him about it.

      Cedar Falls is currently at 5 Kevins.

    • Re:Pedantic (Score:4, Informative)

      by Khashishi (775369) on Monday February 15, 2010 @03:44PM (#31147586) Journal

      Usually, in high energy physics, temperature is given in units of electron volts. One electron volt ~= 11600 Kelvin.
      So this would be written, 0.4 GeV. Which is still extremely hot.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I find it baffling that you'd pick up on the (microscopic) difference between Celsius and Kelvin - but ignore the utterly meaningless term "trillion". Nobody in the sciences uses that word since it may or may not imply 9 or 12 or 15 (or whatever) zeros, depending on which part of the globe you happen you stand on.

      Oh, and 0.4GeV is nothing - the cosmic-ray spectrum peaks around 1GeV and cosmic-ray events have been observed another 11 orders of magnitude beyond that. Google term: "Fly's Eye".

  • Old news (Score:3, Funny)

    by algormortis (1422619) on Monday February 15, 2010 @02:29PM (#31146632)
    Einstein already suggested something like this, however he never did any research since the soup wasn't kosher.
  • thought biomedical researchers were "playing God".

  • I really enjoy and believe in science. However... we're really playing with shit that we don't understand here; yeah, that's the nature of science, but this is different. Is "recreating conditions at the beginning of the universe" (yeah, I know it's somewhat of an analogy) on the only planet we have really the best idea?

    I'm not saying it shouldn't be done, but have rational scientists even asked the question?
    • by JohnFluxx (413620)

      > I'm not saying it shouldn't be done, but have rational scientists even asked the question?

      No, nobody has ever considered the safety. Since you are so brilliant and have just thought of it by yourself, you should quickly write them a letter and tell them. I'm sure they'll be appreciative.

    • Fear is the enemy of innovation and knowledge.

    • "recreating conditions at the beginning of the universe"
      We've been doing that for quite a while now, 50 years ago we were playing around with the conditions that occurred a few seconds after creation, now we've turned to clock back to a few microseconds after creation, so they been asking the question for a while; but when they build one around the equator, I'm going to start worrying.

  • No soup for you!
  • Better to search for "quark-gluon plasma" if you are looking for more info on this subject.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quark%E2%80%93gluon_plasma [wikipedia.org]

  • Quark-gluon plasma (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rising Ape (1620461) on Monday February 15, 2010 @05:13PM (#31148656)

    The Higgs mechanism is often talked about as the source of mass, but what's less well publicised is that it's the dynamics of QCD (the strong interaction) that are responsible for the majority of the mass of ordinary matter, by a similar mechanism. Essentially, the vacuum isn't empty because the empty state isn't the lowest energy state - that requires a non-zero Higgs field and a non-zero quark condensate (from QCD).

    The consequences of this are that particles behave as though they have mass when fundamentally they don't - they just behave that way because of their interactions with the background fields. If you excite the system to a high enough temperature though, there's a phase transition to the "free" state in a manner crudely analogous to boiling of a liquid releasing the confinement of adjacent molecules so they behave freely. In the QCD case, this temperature is low enough to be probed by experiments (not so much the electroweak/Higgs case), so we get free, low-mass quarks.

    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      >>The Higgs mechanism is often talked about as the source of mass, but what's less well publicised is that it's the dynamics of QCD (the strong interaction) that are responsible for the majority of the mass of ordinary matter, by a similar mechanism.

      If mass really exists, which it may or may not.

      In general relativity, the concept of mass is kind of a vague one. Momentum is a lot easier to work with. Photons have momentum but no mass. What most people think of as "mass" means something along the lines

  • It took a lot of asking around, but someone finally pointed me the paper [arxiv.org], which actually dates back to September.

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