The European Physical Journal H

, 36:245

JETS and QCD: a historical review of the discovery of the quark and gluon jets and its impact on QCD



DOI: 10.1140/epjh/e2011-10047-1

Cite this article as:
Ali, A. & Kramer, G. EPJ H (2011) 36: 245. doi:10.1140/epjh/e2011-10047-1


The observation of quark and gluon jets has played a crucial role in establishing Quantum Chromodynamics [QCD] as the theory of the strong interactions within the Standard Model of particle physics. The jets, narrowly collimated bundles of hadrons, reflect configurations of quarks and gluons at short distances. Thus, by analysing energy and angular distributions of the jets experimentally, the properties of the basic constituents of matter and the strong forces acting between them can be explored. In this review, which is primarily a description of the discovery of the quark and gluon jets and the impact of their observation on Quantum Chromodynamics, we elaborate, in particular, the role of the gluons as the carriers of the strong force. Focusing on these basic points, jets in e+e collisions will be in the foreground of the discussion and we will concentrate on the theory that was contemporary with the relevant experiments at the electron-positron colliders. In addition we will delineate the role of jets as tools for exploring other particle aspects in ep and \hbox{$pp/p\bar{p}$}pp / p collisions  −  quark and gluon densities in protons, measurements of the QCD coupling, fundamental 2-2 quark/gluon scattering processes, but also the impact of jet decays of top quarks, and W ± , Z bosons on the electroweak sector. The presentation to a large extent is formulated in a non-technical language with the intent to recall the significant steps historically and convey the significance of this field also to communities beyond high energy physics.

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