Burkert, Volker; Roberts, Craig
Discovered in 1963, the Roper resonance appears to be an exact copy of the proton except that its mass is 50% greater and it is unstable. These features of the Roper have been very difficult to explain so that for half a century this lightest excited state of the proton has defied understanding. The last decade has presented a new challenge, viz. precise information on the proton-to-Roper electroproduction transition form factors. Reaching to momentum transfer Q(2) approximate to 4.5 GeV2, the data probe a domain within which hard valence-quark degrees of freedom could be expected to determine form factor behavior. An explanation of the Roper should combine an understanding of all these things. This is a prodigious task, but a ten-year international collaborative effort, involving experimentalists and theorists, has presented a candidate solution to the puzzle. Namely, the observed Roper is at the heart of the proton's first radial excitation, consisting of a dressed-quark core augmented by a meson cloud that reduces the core mass by approximately 20% and materially alters its electroproduction form factors on Q(2) < 2m(N)(2), where m(N) is the proton's mass. This Colloquium describes the experimental developments which enabled electroproduction data to be procured within a domain that is the purview of strong quantum chromodynamics, thereby providing challenges and opportunities for modern theory, and surveys the developments in reaction models and QCD theory that have enabled this picture of the Roper resonance to be drawn.