Murray Gell-Mann, the Eightfold Way, and Quantum Chromodynamics

Resources with Additional Information

Murray Gell-Mann
Courtesy of the Santa Fe Institute

‘In 1969, Professor Gell-Mann received the Nobel Prize in physics for his work on the theory of elementary particles. Professor Gell-Mann's "eightfold way" theory brought order to the chaos created by the discovery of some 100 particles in the atom's nucleus. Then he found that all of those particles, including the neutron and proton, are composed of fundamental building blocks that he named "quarks." The quarks are permanently confined by forces coming from the exchange of "gluons." He and others later constructed the quantum field theory of quarks and gluons, called "quantum chromodynamics," which seems to account for all the nuclear particles and their strong interactions." …

Illustration of the Eightfold Way
Murray Gell-Mann
Michael Riordan, "The Hunting of the Quark"

Although he is a theoretical physicist, Professor Gell-Mann's interests extend to many other subjects, including natural history, historical linguistics, archaeology, history, depth psychology, and creative thinking... . His recent research at the Santa Fe Institute has focused on the subject of complex adaptive systems… . He is also concerned with how knowledge and understanding are to be extracted from the welter of "information" that can now be transmitted and stored as a result of the digital revolution.'

Murray Gell-Mann is author of the popular science book, The Quark and the Jaguar, Adventures in the Simple and the Complex. Among the awards he has received is the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award.

- Edited excerpts from Murray Gell-Mann Brief Biography, Santa Fe Institute


Resources with Additional Information

Additional information about Murray Gell-Mann and his research is available in full-text and on the Web.


The Eightfold Way: A Theory of Strong Interaction Symmetry, DOE Technical Report, March 15, 1961

Symmetries of Baryons and Mesons; Physical Review, Vol. 125, Issue 3: 1067-1084, February 1, 1962

Nonleptonic Weak Decays and the Eightfold Way; Physical Review Letters, Vol. 12, Issue 6: 155-156, February 10, 1964

Octet Enhancement, DOE Technical Report, August 1964

Triplets and Triality, DOE Technical Report, August 1964

Current Algebra, DOE Technical Report, October 1966

Relativistic Quark Model as Representation of Current Algebra, DOE Technical Report, October 1966


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