Most of the visible mass of the universe is composed of protons and neutrons---particles
which build up the cores of atoms. However, the protons and neutrons (nucleons) are
themselves composed of more fundamental particles known as quarks and gluons and
interestingly, these small constituents appear to be forever trapped inside their
respective parent. An article in an August 2000 issue of the New York Times listed
understanding confinement of quarks inside of protons and neutrons as one of the ten
fundamental questions in physics to ponder for the 'next millennium or two'. While
we believe that the theory of Quantum Chromodynamics, (QCD), can explain this
confinement, an exact understanding of how QCD works has been extremely elusive.
We know that QCD works under the extreme conditions found in high energy particle
collisions, but our knowledge of what it is doing under normal conditions found
in the every day world is quite limited. Using advances in high speed computing
and experimental facilities that could soon be available at laboratories in the
United States, scientists hope to go a long way in answering this question within
the next decade.
Curtis A. Meyer
Interim Dean, Mellon College of Science
The Otto Stern Professor of Physics
MCS Deans Office
Carnegie Mellon University
4400 Fifth Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Physics: Wean Hall 8410
Phone: (412) 260-6290