The purpose of this volume is to trace the development of the theoretical understanding of quark-gluon plasma, both in terms of the equation of state and thermal correlation functions and in terms of its manifestation in high energy nuclear collisions. Who among us has not wondered how tall a mountain is on a neutron star, what happens when matter is heated and compressed to higher and higher densities, what happens when an object falls into a black hole, or what happened eons ago in the early universe? The study of quark-gluon plasma is related in one way or another to these and other thought provoking questions. Oftentimes the most eloquent exposition is given in the original papers. To this end a selection is made of what are the most important pioneering papers in this field. The early 1950s was an era when high energy multiparticle production in cosmic ray interactions attracted the attention of some of the brightest minds in physics, and so it should be no surprise that the first reprinted papers deal with the introduction of statistical models of particle production.
The quark model arose in the 1960s, while QCD as such was recognized as the theory of the strong interactions in the 1970's. The behavior of matter at high temperatures and supranuclear densities became of wide interest in the nuclear and particle physics communities starting in the 1970s, which is when the concept of quark-gluon plasma became established. The history of the field has been traced up to the early 1990s. There are three reasons for stopping at that point in time. First, most of the key theoretical concepts and formalisms arose before 1993, although many of them continue to be developed today and hopefully well into the future. Second, papers written after 1992 are much more readily available than those writen before due to the advent of the World Wide Web and its electronic preprint databases and journals. Finally, in making this collection of reprints available as hardcopy one is limited in the number of pages, and some papers in the present selection should have been deleted in order to make room for post-1993 papers.
For the same reason the subject focus must of necessity be limited, which means that in this reprint collection two wide subject areas are not addressed: the behavior of nuclear matter under extreme conditions is not reported, nor is quark matter in neutron stars. The broad categories into which the material has been placed, reflect the diverse studies of quark-gluon plasma and its manifestation. They are: phase-space models of particle production, perturbative QCD plasma, lattice gauge theory, fluid dynamics and flow, strangeness, heavy flavor (charm), electromagnetic signals, parton cascade and minijets, parton energy loss and jet quenching, Hanbury Brown--Twiss (HBT) interferometry, disoriented chiral condensates, phase transition dynamics and cosmology, and color superconductivity. Each chapter is prefaced by an introduction, which contains a list of significant papers which is more complete than the reprinted papers, though by no means exhaustive. It also contains citations to most relevant papers published up to the date of completion of this volume (fall 2002). It is hoped that the short reviews will help bring the reader up to date on the latest developments.
The selection of papers cited in each chapter, and in particular the ones selected for reprinting, is solely the responsibility of the Editors. It is based on their best judgement and experience in this field dating back to the mid-1970s. In order to be reprinted a paper must have been pioneering in the sense of originality and impact on the field. Generally they have been cited over a hundred times by other papers published in refereed journals. The final selection was reviewed and discussed among the Editors repeatedly. Just because a paper is not included does not mean they do not know of it or do not have a high regard for it. All of the papers cited or reprinted are original research contributions. There are three other types of publications listed. The first is a compilation of books. The second is a list of reviews, many of which contain a significant amount of original material. The third is a list of the proceedings of the series of Quark Matter meetings, the primary series of international conferences in this field that is attended by both theorists and experimentalists.
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