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A year at CERN. Parastatistics and color


Quarks as asymptotic states. Missed opportunities
Murray Gell-Mann Scientist
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[Q] In terms of your previous thinking about confinement and so on, what was your thinking about the fact that in these models, the parton model, Bjorken's thinking and so on, the calculation proceeded, as you say, as if they were free; therefore as if quarks of course, could become asymptotic states and be seen. That is the way the calculation took place…

No! No, no, no, no, no! That's not true! They were free in the limit of very high momentum transfers, short distances, so they were free deep inside the hadrons. They did not… they did not have to act free when the momentum transfers were small. In other words at big distances, so they were not at all free far away. So there was no problem…

[Q] So you… what I'm asking…

In fact, later on it turned out that they were extremely unfree…Yes…
At large distances, they were confined.

[Q] But at that time, you saw..?


[Q] You were… you saw no conflict and you were quite..?

No, I didn't see any conflict. No, I didn't see any conflict but I did not grasp the opportunity. It was the second opportunity that I didn't grasp, to say, well, if these ideas are right then that's perfectly compatible with confinement because the… the particles get less and less free as the momentum transfer gets smaller and smaller and very big distances, maybe they're completely confined. But I didn't seize hold of that. I was worried about a lot of other things at that time, and I didn't… I didn't seize hold of that.

New York-born physicist Murray Gell-Mann (1929-2019) was known for his creation of the eightfold way, an ordering system for subatomic particles, comparable to the periodic table. His discovery of the omega-minus particle filled a gap in the system, brought the theory wide acceptance and led to Gell-Mann's winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1969.

Listeners: Geoffrey West

Geoffrey West is a Staff Member, Fellow, and Program Manager for High Energy Physics at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He is also a member of The Santa Fe Institute. He is a native of England and was educated at Cambridge University (B.A. 1961). He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1966 followed by post-doctoral appointments at Cornell and Harvard Universities. He returned to Stanford as a faculty member in 1970. He left to build and lead the Theoretical High Energy Physics Group at Los Alamos. He has numerous scientific publications including the editing of three books. His primary interest has been in fundamental questions in Physics, especially those concerning the elementary particles and their interactions. His long-term fascination in general scaling phenomena grew out of his work on scaling in quantum chromodynamics and the unification of all forces of nature. In 1996 this evolved into the highly productive collaboration with James Brown and Brian Enquist on the origin of allometric scaling laws in biology and the development of realistic quantitative models that analyse the influence of size on the structural and functional design of organisms.

Tags: James Bjorken

Duration: 1 minute, 36 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 29 September 2010