What is the explanation between equality of proton and electron charges (up to a sign)? This is connected to the gauge invariance and renormalization of charge is connected to the renormalization of photon field, but is this explanation enough? Do we have some experimental evidence that quarks have 2/3 and -1/3 charges? By the way I think about bare charge of electron and proton. And I am also wondering if this can be explained by Standard Model.
Because a proton can decay to a positron. It is an experimental fact that the proton and positron charges are very close. To conclude that they are exactly equal requires an argument. If a proton could theoretically decay to a positron and neutral stuff, this is enough.
In QED, charge quantization is equivalent to the statement that the gauge group is compact. This means that there is a gauge transformation by a full $2\pi$ rotation of the fields which is equivalent to nothing at all. Under these circumstances you have the following:
If you have any sort of ultraviolet regulator, either a GUT or gravity, the existence of Dirac strings leads to monopoles. If you don't have an ultraviolet regulator, it is consistent to make all the monopoles infinitely massive.
So the question is why is the U(1) of electromagnetism compact. There are two avenues for answering this:
It is also true that in any GUT theory producing electromagnetism, you get monopoles, so you automatically get charge quantization by Dirac's argument.
But even if you have a U(1) which is not part of a GUT, there are constraints from gravity. If you have particle with charge q and a particle with charge q', and they aren't rational multiples of each other, you can produce a particle with charge $nq - m q'$ by throwing n q particles into a black hole, waiting for m q' particles to come out, and letting the resulting black hole decay, while throwing back any charge particle that comes out.
This means that in a consistent quantum gravity, you need either charge quantization or a spectrum of charges that accumulates near zero. Further, in order for the theory to be consistent, a black hole made from the wee charges must be able to naturally decay to wee charged things, and barring a conspiratorial spectrum of charges and masses, this strongly suggests that the mass of the wee charges must be smaller than the charge, meaning that as the charge gets small they become massless.
So in quantum gravity, the only alternative to charge quantization is a theory with nearly massless particles with extremely tiny charges, and this has clear experimental signatures.
I should point out that if you believe that the standard model matter is complete, then anomaly cancellation requires that the charge of the proton is equal to the charge of the positron, because there is instanton mediated proton decay as discovered by t'Hooft, and this is something we might concievable soon observe in accelerators. So in order to make the charge of the proton slightly different from the electron, you can't modify parameters in the standard model, you need to add a heck of a lot of unobserved nearly massless fermions with tiny U(1) charge.
This is enough conspiratorial implausibility, that together with the experimental bound, you can say with certainty that the proton and electron have exactly the same charge.
On the level of QED and above, the equality of the charges has no theoretical explanation. But it is extremely well established experimentally, as even small deviations would add up to huge amounts of electricity in bulk matter.
On the level of the standard model, the value of the charges of the up and down quark comes from simple arithmetic from those of the proton and neutron, and hence doesn't give an independent piece of information.
On the other hand, if a unified field thoery with a semisimple gauge group were found to be valid, it would forces charge quantization, as there are only a discrete number of irreducible unitary representations (which define the possible quantum numbers = charges). This would turn an approximate equality in an exact equality, and hence prove the equality of the charges of the proton and the electron (apart from the sign). Thus it would explain this equality.
By the way, bare charges of charged elementary particles are infinite and devoid of any physical meaning.
The answer is "because". It is an experimental fact.
It is among the first data that were gathered which supported the atomic theory. If they were not the same the atoms would not be neutral, there would always be left over charge and the chemistry and atomic physics data would be different, if there were chemistry and atoms at all.
This fact together with a multitude of facts studied since a century and more, have lead to positing the standard model for particle physics. This model simplifies the information in the data in a similar way as when one knows the symmetries which describe a crystal lattice the crystal is describable by a few parameters and equations. The Standard Model of Particle physics incorporates beautiful symmetries which in the end must arise from any theoretical models about particle physics which aims to be a theory of the whole.
It's due to the observed fact that all charges come in common multiples of the electron charge. The electron charge is the minimum charge an isolatable particle can have. Quarks have a charge of $1\over 3$$e$, so that could be considered the minimum charge. However, quarks are never found by themselves, due to a property called quark confinement. Instead, they are always found in either groups of three (baryons), or two (mesons). Any one of these hadrons does however have a charge that is a multiple of the electron charge.
Why is electric charge quantized? That is, why do all charges come in multiples of $e$? Paul Dirac attempted to find a solution to this by showing that the existence of magnetic monopoles would require that electric charges come in discrete multiples. In very simple terms, the basic argument is that if there are magnetically charged particles (magnetic monopoles) they too must have well-defined quantum states, and that this requirement places a constraint on electrical fluxes. That constraint leads to the requirement that electrical charge be quantized. For a derivation, see here:
However, no experiment has found monopoles to date. So, there really isn't a very compelling explanation for the quantization of charge.
protected by Community♦ Feb 3 at 9:32
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