A fully relativistic (Lorentz covariant) description, first put forward by Paul Dirac in 1928, of the first quantized, spin one half fermion with nonzero mass. Physical notions to do with this equation include the Dirac sea, Dirac hole theory, the Klein Paradox and the fine structure of the Hydrogen ...

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Why fermions have a first order (Dirac) equation and bosons a second order one?

Is there a deep reason for a fermion to have a first order equation in the derivative while the bosons have a second order one? Does this imply deep theoretical differences (like space phase dimesion ...
16
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2answers
1k views

Introduction to spinors in physics, and their relation to representations

First, I shall say that I am familiar with the intuitive idea that a spinor is like a vector (or tensor) that only transforms "up to a sign" when acted on by the rotation group. I have even rotated a ...
15
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3answers
2k views

Dimension of Dirac $\gamma$ matrices

While studying the Dirac equation, I came across this enigmatic passage on p. 551 in From Classical to Quantum Mechanics by G. Esposito, G. Marmo, G. Sudarshan regarding the $\gamma$ matrices: ...
14
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2answers
2k views

How to prove $(\gamma^\mu)^\dagger=\gamma^0\gamma^\mu\gamma^0$?

Studying the basics of spin-$\frac{1}{2}$ QFT, I encountered the gamma matrices. One important property is $(\gamma^5)^\dagger=\gamma^5$, the hermicity of $\gamma^5$. After some searching, I stumbled ...
13
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2answers
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Is Zitterbewegung an artefact of single-particle theory?

I have seen a number of articles on Zitterbewegung claiming searches for it such as this one: http://arxiv.org/abs/0810.2186. Others such as the so-called ZBW interpretation by Hestenes seemingly ...
13
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4answers
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What is the difference between a spinor and a vector or a tensor?

Why do we call a 1/2 spin particle satisfying the Dirac equation a spinor, and not a vector or a tensor?
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2answers
4k views

Charge conjugation in Dirac equation

According to Dirac equation we can write, \begin{equation} \left(i\gamma^\mu( \partial_\mu +ie A_\mu)- m \right)\psi(x,t) = 0 \end{equation} We seek an equation where $e\rightarrow -e $ and which ...
11
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1answer
378 views

Interpretation of Dirac equation states

In Pauli theory the components of two-component wavefunction were interpreted as probability amplitudes of finding the particle in particular spin state. This seems easy to understand. But when ...
11
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3answers
1k views

What was missing in Dirac's argument to come up with the modern interpretation of the positron?

When Dirac found his equation for the electron $(-i\gamma^\mu\partial_\mu+m)\psi=0$ he famously discovered that it had negative energy solutions. In order to solve the problem of the stability of the ...
11
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1answer
490 views

How is the Dirac adjoint generalized?

I am wondering how one can generalize the Dirac adjoint to flat "spacetimes" of arbitrary dimension and signature. To be more specific, a standard situation would be to consider 4 dimensional ...
11
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1answer
297 views

Klein paradox for bosons and fermions

I am reading this paper about the Klein paradox, i.e. transmission of relativistic particles incident on a potential step of height $V_0 > E + mc^2 > 2mc^2$ with $E$ the energy of the incident ...
10
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4answers
3k views

Why would Klein-Gordon describe spin-0 scalar field while Dirac describe spin-1/2?

The derivation of both Klein-Gordon equation and Dirac equation is due the need of quantum mechanics (or to say more correctly, quantum field theory) to adhere to special relativity. However, excpet ...
10
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2answers
869 views

Exact energies of spherical harmonic oscillator in Dirac equation

The potential is given by: $$ V(r) = {1\over 2} \omega^2 r^2 $$ and we are solving the radial Dirac equation (in atomic units): $$ c{d P(r)\over d r} + c {\kappa\over r} P(r) + Q(r) (V(r)-2mc^2) = E ...
9
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2answers
2k views

Dirac equation in curved space-time

I have seen the Dirac equation in curved space-time written as $$[i\bar{\gamma}^{\mu}\frac{\partial}{\partial x^{\mu}}-i\bar{\gamma}^{\mu}\Gamma_{\mu}-m]\psi=0 $$ This ...
9
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2answers
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What is negative about negative energy states in the Dirac equation?

This question is a follow up to What was missing in Dirac's argument to come up with the modern interpretation of the positron? There still is some confusion in my mind about the so-called ...
9
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2answers
203 views

Is there a 2D manifold on which the Dirac equation has a zero mode?

The two-dimensional (2D) Dirac equation $(\sigma_1iD_1+\sigma_2 iD_2)\psi=E\psi$ admits zero mode ($E=0$) solutions on a non-trivial gauge background, such as the zero mode at the core of a U(1) gauge ...
9
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2answers
751 views

Geometrical interpretation of the Dirac equation

Is there an intuitive geometrical picture behind the Dirac equation, and the gamma matrices that it uses? I know the geometric algebra is a Clifford algebra. Can the properties of geometric algebra, ...
8
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1answer
585 views

Question about Majorana fermions

I have a few questions about Majorana fermions. What is Majorana mass? Does it have a different value compared to the mass in the Dirac equation for an arbitrary fermion? How exactly do they differ? ...
8
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1answer
777 views

Lorentz transformation of the Spinor Field

I'm reading chapter 3 of Peskin and Schroeder and am stuck on page 43 of P&S. They have defined the Lorentz generators in the spinor representation as: \begin{equation} S^{\mu \nu} = ...
8
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1answer
113 views

Substitution $\partial_\mu \to D_\mu \equiv \partial_\mu + ieA_\mu$ allows the introduction of electromagnetic interactions [duplicate]

I want to show that the substitution $\partial_u \to D_\mu \equiv \partial_\mu + ieA_\mu$, or equivalently $p_\mu \to p_\mu - eA_\mu$ allows the introduction of electromagnetic interactions. Here $e$ ...
8
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2answers
872 views

Does Dirac's idea of filled negative energy states make sense?

Please bear with me a bit on this. I know my title is controversial, but it's serious and detailed question about the explanation Dirac attached to his amazing equations, not the equations themselves. ...
8
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2answers
242 views

Can we treat $\psi^{c}$ as a field independent from $\psi$?

When we derive the Dirac equation from the Lagrangian, $$ \mathcal{L}=\overline{\psi}i\gamma^{\mu}\partial_{\mu}\psi-m\overline{\psi}\psi, $$ we assume $\psi$ and ...
8
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1answer
533 views

Dirac equation as canonical quantization?

First of all, I'm not a physicist, I'm mathematics phd student, but I have one elementary physical question and was not able to find answer in standard textbooks. Motivation is quite simple: let me ...
7
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4answers
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Why are four-vectors needed in the Dirac equation, when there are 4 linearly independent 2D matrices?

I was taught that for the Dirac-equation to "work", you need matrices of the following form: $Tr(\alpha^i) = 0$. Eigenvalues +1 or -1 2 previous points together: equal number of negative and ...
7
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4answers
494 views

Why do we need $2^\text{nd}$ quantization of the Dirac equation

As a Mathematician reading about the Dirac equation on the internet, leaves me with a great deal of confusion, about it. So let me start with its definition: The Dirac equation, is given by $ i ...
7
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4answers
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Dirac equation on general geometries?

I have a numerical method for computing solutions to the Dirac equation for a spin 1/2 particle constrained to an arbitrary surface and am interested in finding applications where the configuration ...
7
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1answer
330 views

Sign in front of QFT kinetic terms

I'd like to know if the sign in front of a kinetic term in QFT important. For the scalar field we conventionally write (in the $ + --- $ metric), \begin{equation} {\cal L} _{ kin} = \frac{1}{2} ...
7
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1answer
214 views

Are there negative energy states in QED?

I was reading Weinberg I, when I came upon the following statement$^1$ (slightly edited by me): \begin{align} (\not p+m)u=ie\not A\\ (\not p-m)v=ie\not A \tag{1} \end{align} The minus sign on ...
7
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1answer
424 views

Determinant of Dirac operator in flat space?

How would you evaluate \begin{equation}|iD\!\!\!\!/-m|\end{equation} Where $D_{\mu}=\partial_{\mu}-ieA_{\mu}$. I have an idea of how to do this without the gauge field, because it's essentially ...
7
votes
2answers
317 views

Is there a reason why a relativistic quantum theory of a single fermion exists, but of a single scalar not?

When we try to construct the relativistic generalization of non-relativistic time dependent Schroedinger equation, there are at least two possible completions - Klein-Gordon equation and Dirac ...
7
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2answers
588 views

Why the lowest order of matrices in Dirac equation are 4x4 matrices?

Why the lowest order of matrices in Dirac equation (Relativistic Quantums) are 4x4 matrices (and can not be 2x2 matrices)? How to prove it?
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7answers
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Evolution in the interpretation of the Dirac equation

As I understand, Dirac equation was first interpreted as a wave equation following the ideas of non relativistic quantum mechanics, but this lead to different problems. The equation was then ...
6
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4answers
990 views

Dirac equation as Hamiltonian system

Let us consider Dirac equation $$(i\gamma^\mu\partial_\mu -m)\psi ~=~0$$ as a classical field equation. Is it possible to introduce Poisson bracket on the space of spinors $\psi$ in such a way that ...
6
votes
4answers
699 views

Why is the Dirac equation not used for calculations?

From what I understand the Dirac equation is supposed to be an improvement on the Schrödinger equation in that it is consistent with relativity theory. Yet all methods I have encountered for doing ...
6
votes
3answers
257 views

Why aren't purely Dirac neutrinos ruled out?

It is common knowledge that in neutrinos can be Dirac particles without any Majorana masses as given a mass matrix, \begin{equation} \left( \begin{array}{cc}\nu _L & \nu _R \end{array} \right) ...
6
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2answers
974 views

Is the Dirac Lagrangian Hermitian?

I'm wondering of the Dirac Lagrangian density $$\mathcal{L} =\overline{\psi}(-i\gamma^\mu \partial_\mu +m)\psi $$ is an hermitian operator, since upon complex conjugating one gets ...
6
votes
1answer
4k views

Majorana mass vs Dirac Mass

Why is it said that the Dirac mass term conserves the fermion number but the Majorana mass term does not? Can someone explain this mathematically? Which breakdown of symmetry is responsible for ...
6
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1answer
136 views

Why zero modes of the internal Dirac operator must be in representations of the isometry group of the compact space

Imagine a manifold $\mathbb{R}^{1,3}\times{}B$ where $B$ is a compact group-manifold with isometry group $U(1)\times{}SU(2)\times{}SU(3)$. Let's consider the Dirac equation for a massless Spinor ...
6
votes
3answers
696 views

Is it true that the Schrödinger equation only applies to spin-1/2 particles?

I recently came across a claim that the Schrödinger equation only describes spin-1/2 particles. Is this true? I realize that the question may be ill-posed as some would consider the general ...
6
votes
1answer
714 views

Making sense of the canonical anti-commutation relations for Dirac spinors

When doing scalar QFT one typically imposes the famous 'canonical commutation relations' on the field and canonical momentum: $$[\phi(\vec x),\pi(\vec y)]=i\delta^3 (\vec x-\vec y)$$ at equal times ...
6
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1answer
1k views

What is the relativistic particle in a box?

I know people try to solve Dirac equation in a box. Some claim it cannot be done. Some claim that they had found the solution, I have seen three and they are all different and bizarre. But my main ...
6
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1answer
448 views

Dirac Lagrangian density in curved spacetime

I'm trying to derive this form of the Dirac Lagrangian density in curved space-time: $$ \mathcal{L}~=~\det\left(e\right)\bar{\Psi}\Bigg ...
6
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0answers
276 views

Is there supersymmetry between Dirac and Klein Gordon solutions?

Usually supersymmetry is explained at the level of the action of a quantum field theory, and there are two ways to go down from QFT to relativistic quantum mechanics: either a non-covariant way where ...
5
votes
4answers
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Where is spin in the Schroedinger equation of an electron in the hydrogen atom?

In my current quantum mechanics, course, we have derived in full (I believe?) the wave equations for the time-independent stationary states of the hydrogen atom. We are told that the Pauli Exclusion ...
5
votes
2answers
516 views

Relation for Dirac-spinors of different helicities

Assume that we have massless spin-1/2 particles. The Dirac-spinor is the solution of the Dirac equation: $$ p^\mu \gamma_\mu u_\pm(p) = 0, \quad p^2 = 0$$ The subscripts $\pm$ denote two different ...
5
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1answer
63 views

The chirality of (2+1)D Dirac equation

Are there any definitions about the chirality of (2+1)D Dirac equation? For the (3+1)D Dirac equation, the Dirac field can be written as the sum of left- and right-hand Weyl field. Can this be reduced ...
5
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2answers
192 views

Fermion as a mixture of particle and antiparticle

The solution to the Dirac equation (in the Dirac basis) are 4 coupled fields. The first 2 of them represent a particle (spin up/down), the other 2 fields are the antiparticle (spin up/down). When the ...
5
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1answer
181 views

Explicit form of $\gamma^\mu \partial_\mu$ in the Dirac equation

I'm in an introductory particle physics class, and in performing manipulations on the Dirac equation, my instructor expands the $\gamma^\mu \partial_\mu$ term as: $$\gamma^\mu \partial_\mu = \gamma^0 ...
5
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1answer
496 views

Higher dimension operator in free Dirac Lagrangian

When discussing higher dimensional operators in a theory with fermions, why do I never see anyone ever talk about the dimension five operator $\partial_\mu\bar\psi\partial^\mu\psi$? How does the ...
5
votes
2answers
674 views

What is the gamma five matrix $\gamma_5$?

This Wikipedia page explains that for each of the four main gamma matrices $\gamma^{\mu}$, you can find the covariant matrices $\gamma_{\mu}$ with the equation $\gamma_{\mu} = ...