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How to proceed

Given the exciting developments described above, but also their rather recent character, the future directions are clear. The current SPS fixed target program is unique in the world, it addresses a well focused set of fundamental questions, it has entered an extremely productive phase and it has now to be brought to its full potential. With the exception of the low mass lepton pair measurements, statistics is in general not a problem. Rather the future program has to provide the answers to some well identified questions to settle the issues of equilibration, expansion dynamics and hydrodynamic behavior, anomalous J/ suppression, and in-medium modifications of the vector mesons. The continuation of the SPS program will include a low energy run around 40 GeV per nucleon which will increase the maximal baryon density but lower the energy density. This allows to play the two axes of the phase diagram against each other. On the longer term, making use of the LHC for heavy ion collisions provides an unparalleled opportunity for exploring the physics of QCD matter in a qualitatively very different and unique region of extremely high energy density. The ALICE experiment is a common endeavor of the European high energy heavy ion community with smaller but growing participation from outside Europe. It is under preparation since 1990, has been approved in early 1997 by all relevant CERN committees and will be the future of the ultra-relativistic heavy ion program. Building a detector of the size and complexity required for LHC will be an unprecedented challenge for nuclear physics, and its successful completion will need the continued, strong and emphatic support and participation from the nuclear physics community in Europe.
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