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Mass, a concept familiar to all of us, is also

one of the deepest

mysteries in nature. Almost all of the mass in the

visible universe,

you, me and any other stuff that we see around us, emerges from a

quantum field theory, called QCD, which has a completely negligible

microscopic mass content. How does QCD and the family of

gauge

theories it belongs to generate a mass?

This class of non-perturbative problems remained largely elusive despite much

effort over the years. Recently, new ideas based on compactification have been

shown useful to address some of these. Two such inter-related ideas are circle

compactifications, which avoid phase transitions and large-N volume

independence. Through the first one, we realized the existence of a

large-class of "topological molecules", e.g. magnetic bions,

which

generate mass gap in a class

of compactified gauge theories. The inception of the

second, the idea of large-N volume independence is old. The new

progress is the realization of its first working examples. This property

allows us to

map a four dimensional gauge theory (including pure Yang-Mills) to a

quantum

mechanics

at large-N.

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©2012 Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics