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We compare multiplicities as well as rapidity and transverse momentum distributions of protons, pions and kaons calculated within presently available transport approaches for heavy ion collisions around 1 AGeV. For this purpose, three reactions have been selected: Au+Au at 1 and 1.48 AGeV and Ni+Ni at 1.93 AGeV.

The isospin and strangeness dimensions of the Equation of State are explored. RIA and the SIS200 accelerator at GSI will allow to explore these regions in compressed baryonic matter. 132 Sn + 132 Sn and 100 Sn + 100 Sn collisions as well as the excitation functions of K/pi, Lambda/pi and the centrality dependence of charmonium suppression from the UrQMD and HSD transport models are presented and compared to data. Unambiguous proof for the creation of a 'novel phase of matter' from strangeness and charm yields is not in sight.

The SENECA model, a new hybrid approach to air shower simulations, is presented. It combines the use of efficient cascade equations in the energy range where a shower can be treated as one-dimensional, with a traditional Monte Carlo method which traces individual particles. This allows one to reproduce natural fluctuations of individual showers as well as the lateral spread of low energy particles. The model is quite efficient in computation time. As an application of the new approach, the influence of the low energy hadronic models on shower properties for AUGER energies is studied. We conclude that these models have a significant impact on the tails of lateral distribution functions, and deserve therefore more attention.

We investigate hadron production as well as transverse hadron spectra in nucleus-nucleus collisions from 2 A.GeV to 21.3 A.TeV within two independent transport approaches (UrQMD and HSD) that are based on quark, diquark, string and hadronic degrees of freedom. The comparison to experimental data demonstrates that both approaches agree quite well with each other and with the experimental data on hadron production. The enhancement of pion production in central Au+Au (Pb+Pb) collisions relative to scaled pp collisions (the 'kink') is well described by both approaches without involving any phase transition. However, the maximum in the K+/Pi+ ratio at 20 to 30 A.GeV (the 'horn') is missed by ~ 40%. A comparison to the transverse mass spectra from pp and C+C (or Si+Si) reactions shows the reliability of the transport models for light systems. For central Au+Au (Pb+Pb) collisions at bombarding energies above ~ 5 A.GeV, however, the measured K +/- m-theta-spectra have a larger inverse slope parameter than expected from the calculations. The approximately constant slope of K+/-spectra at SPS (the 'step') is not reproduced either. Thus the pressure generated by hadronic interactions in the transport models above ~ 5 A.GeV is lower than observed in the experimental data. This finding suggests that the additional pressure - as expected from lattice QCD calculations at finite quark chemical potential and temperature - might be generated by strong interactions in the early pre-hadronic/partonic phase of central Au+Au (Pb+Pb) collisions.

We investigate hadron production as well as transverse hadron spectra from proton-proton, proton-nucleus and nucleus-nucleus collisions from 2 A·GeV to 21.3 A·TeV within two independent transport approaches (HSD and UrQMD) that are based on quark, diquark, string and hadronic degrees of freedom. The comparison to experimental data on transverse mass spectra from pp, pA and C+C (or Si+Si) reactions shows the reliability of the transport models for light systems. For central Au+Au (Pb+Pb) collisions at bombarding energies above ~5 A·GeV, furthermore, the measured K± transverse mass spectra have a larger inverse slope parameter than expected from the default calculations. We investigate various scenarios to explore their potential effects on the K± spectra. In particular the initial state Cronin effect is found to play a substantial role at top SPS and RHIC energies. However, the maximum in the K+/..+ ratio at 20 to 30 A·GeV is missed by 40% and the approximately constant slope of the K± spectra at SPS energies is not reproduced either. Our systematic analysis suggests that the additional pressure - as expected from lattice QCD calculations at finite quark chemical potential µq and temperature T- should be generated by strong interactions in the early pre-hadronic/partonic phase of central Au+Au (Pb+Pb) collisions.

Noneequilibrium models (three-fluid hydrodynamics and UrQMD) use to discuss the uniqueness of often proposed experimental signatures for quark matter formation in relativistic heavy ion collisions. It is demonstrated that these two models - although they do treat the most interesting early phase of the collisions quite differently(thermalizing QGP vs. coherent color fields with virtual particles) - both yields a reasonable agreement with a large variety of the available heavy ion data.

We investigate the excitation function of directed flow, which can provide a clear signature of the creation of the QGP and demonstrate that the minimum of the directed flow does not correspond to the softest point of the EoS for isentropic expansion. A novel technique measuring the compactness is introduced to determine the QGP transition in relativistic-heavy ion collisions: The QGP transition will lead to higher compression and therefore to higher compactness of the source in coordinate space. This e ect can be observed by pion interferometry. We propose to measure the compactness of the source in the appropriate principal axis frame of the compactness tensor in coordinate space.

We investigate hadron production and transverse hadron spectra in nucleus-nucleus collisions from 2 A·GeV to 21.3 A·TeV within two independent transport approaches (UrQMD and HSD) based on quark, diquark, string and hadronic degrees of freedom. The enhancement of pion production in central Au+Au (Pb+Pb) collisions relative to scaled pp collisions (the ’kink’) is described well by both approaches without involving a phase transition. However, the maximum in the K+ p+ ratio at 20 to 30 A·GeV (the ’horn’) is missed by ~ 40%. Also, at energies above ~5 A·GeV, the measured K± mT-spectra have a larger inverse slope than expected from the models. Thus the pressure generated by hadronic interactions in the transport models at high energies is too low. This finding suggests that the additional pressure - as expected from lattice QCD at finite quark chemical potential and temperature - might be generated by strong interactions in the early pre-hadronic/partonic phase of central heavy-ion collisions. Finally, we discuss the emergence of density perturbations in a first-order phase transition and why they might affect relative hadron multiplicities, collective flow, and hadron mean-free paths at decoupling. A minimum in the collective flow v2 excitation function was discovered experimentally at 40 A·GeV - such a behavior has been predicted long ago as signature for a first order phase transition.

Entropy production in the compression stage of heavy ion collisions is discussed within three distinct macroscopic models (i.e. generalized RHTA, geometrical overlap model and three-fluid hydrodynamics). We find that within these models \sim 80% or more of the experimentally observed final-state entropy is created in the early stage. It is thus likely followed by a nearly isentropic expansion. We employ an equation of state with a first-order phase transition. For low net baryon density, the entropy density exhibits a jump at the phase boundary. However, the excitation function of the specific entropy per net baryon, S/A, does not reflect this jump. This is due to the fact that for final states (of the compression) in the mixed phase, the baryon density \rho_B increases with \sqrt{s}, but not the temperature T. Calculations within the three-fluid model show that a large fraction of the entropy is produced by nuclear shockwaves in the projectile and target. With increasing beam energy, this fraction of S/A decreases. At \sqrt{s}=20 AGeV it is on the order of the entropy of the newly produced particles around midrapidity. Hadron ratios are calculated for the entropy values produced initially at beam energies from 2 to 200 AGeV.