The KITP Public Lecture Series
Weight, Weight... Do Tell Me!: QCD and the Origin of Mass
sponsored by Friends of KITP
Mass, and its origin, are mysterious. We know that the mass
of everyday objects comes from the nucleons (protons and
neutrons) in the nuclei of atoms. Simply count the number of
these nucleons and you have a good idea of an object’s mass.
According to quantum chromodynamics (QCD), each proton or
neutron consists of three quarks and some gluons. However, the
combined mass of the quarks and gluons is only 1% of a nucleon’s
– what gives? Interactions between these tiny particles are the
problem: they look simple in one way, but as interactions
accumulate, supercomputers are needed to keep track of them.
Over the past decade, looking at interactions as a way of
understanding QCD has blossomed into a successful enterprise,
solving old problems in physics and aiding new experiments.
Beyond the mass of the proton (and you), these tools can broadly
probe the mysteries of QCD to address problems in particle,
nuclear and astrophysics.