Ion chefs at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider—a 2.4-mile ring at the Brookhaven National Laboratory—have created a 4-trillion-degree Celsius quark soup, the highest temperature ever achieved in a laboratory. That's 250,000 times the Sun core's temperature.

Or 7.2 x 10^12 degrees Fahrenheit, whatever tickles you most. They achieved this by smashing gold ions against each other, traveling at nearly the speed of light. At this temperature, you can cook good old Galactus' famous beef and pork chili or get protons and neutrons to melt into a tasty plasma of quarks and gluons—or QGP—"a freely flowing liquid that filled the universe a few microseconds after it came into existence 13.7 billion years ago." According to Steven Vigdor, Brookhaven's Associate Laboratory Director for Nuclear and Particle Physics:

These data provide the first measurement of the temperature of the quark-gluon plasma at RHIC. The temperature inferred from these new measurements at RHIC is considerably higher than the long-established maximum possible temperature attainable without the liberation of quarks and gluons from their normal confinement inside individual protons and neutrons. However, the quarks and gluons in the matter we see at RHIC behave much more cooperatively than the independent particles initially predicted for QGP.

The atom smashers believe that this plasma is the primordial soup which transformed into the actual protons and neutrons that make up all the matter in the universe. These results will be complemented by the boffins at the Large Hadron Collider, who would be performing a similar experiment whenever they finish with their Gruyere and Appenzeller cheese fondue. [BNL]