Discrete means as opposed to continuous. For, instance, people may ask questions about discrete electric charges, discrete spacetime, discrete energies, etc. If discretization is vital/essential to the question then tag it with the [tag:discrete] tag.

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Does the Planck scale imply that spacetime is discrete?

On a quantum scale the smallest unit is the Planck scale, which is a discrete measure. There several question that come to mind: Does that mean that particles can only live in a discrete grid-like ...
58
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10answers
8k views

Is time continuous or discrete?

While working on physics simulation software, I noticed that I had implemented discrete time (the only type possible on computers). By that I mean that I had an update mechanism that advanced the ...
17
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4answers
1k views

Reason for the discreteness arising in quantum mechanics?

What is the most essential reason that actually leads to the quantization. I am reading the book on quantum mechanics by Griffiths. The quanta in the infinite potential well for e.g. arise due to the ...
42
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9answers
4k views

Is there something similar to Noether's theorem for discrete symmetries?

Noether's theorem states that, for every continuous symmetry of a system, there exists a conserved quantity, e.g. energy conservation for time invariance, charge conservation for $U(1)$. Is there any ...
4
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2answers
941 views

How could spacetime become discretised at the Planck scale?

I didn't have much luck getting a response to this question before so I have tried to reword and expand it a little: In early 2010 I attended this inaugural lecture by string theorist- Prof. ...
39
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5answers
3k views

If photon energies are continuous and atomic energy levels are discrete, how can atoms absorb photons?

If photon energies are continuous and atomic energy levels are discrete, how can atoms absorb photons? The probability of a photon having just the right amount of energy for an atomic transition is ...
16
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1answer
268 views

If time isn't continuous, what is the best-known upper bound on the length of time intervals?

There have been several questions about whether time is continuous or not and it seems like the answer isn't currently known. I know quantum mechanics treats time as continuous and any mathematics ...
7
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3answers
819 views

Are there any quantities in the physical world that are inherently rational/algebraic?

Whenever we measure something, it is usually inexact. For example, the mass of a baseball will never be measured exactly on a scale in any unit of measurement besides "mass in baseballs that are ...
42
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7answers
3k views

Why do we have an elementary charge but no elementary mass?

Why do we have an elementary charge $e$ in physics but no elementary mass? Is an elementary mass ruled out by experiment or is an elementary mass forbidden by some theoretical reason?
38
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3answers
6k views

Is the Planck length the smallest length that exists in the universe or is it the smallest length that can be observed?

I have heard both that Planck length is the smallest length that there is in the universe (whatever this means) and that it is the smallest thing that can be observed because if we wanted to observe ...
21
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7answers
4k views

Is (rest) mass quantized?

I learned today in class that photons and light are quantized. I also remember that electric charge is quantized as well. I was thinking about these implications, and I was wondering if (rest) mass ...
14
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1answer
826 views

Discreteness of set of energy eigenvalues

Given some potential $V$, we have the eigenvalue problem $$ -\frac{\hbar^2}{2m}\Delta \psi + V\psi = E\psi $$ with the boundary condition $$ \lim_{|x|\rightarrow \infty} \psi(x) = 0 $$ If we ...
12
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3answers
695 views

Why does spin have a discrete spectrum?

Why is it that unlike other quantum properties such as momentum and velocity, which usually are given through (probabilistic) continuous values, spin has a (probabilistic) discrete spectrum?
18
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4answers
701 views

Is the electromagnetic spectrum discrete?

I'm just starting to learn physics and I have a question (that is probably stupid.) I learned that energy levels that the bound electron can have are discrete. I also learned that when an electron ...
3
votes
1answer
545 views

What is “charge discreteness”?

I assume it is some kind of quantity. Google only made things more confusing. I get that it has something to do with circuits. I also get what a discrete charge is. In fact, I thought charges ...
4
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3answers
948 views

What are some approaches to discrete space-time used in modern physics?

This thought gave rise to some new questions in my mind. What are the consequences for: How would it affect duality i.e. particle, wave property of photons? How does this statement affect the ...
1
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2answers
798 views

The Quantization of Photon Energies [duplicate]

Despite Planck's constant being in $E=hf$, it would appear to me that energy is still not discrete, as frequency can be an fraction of a Hertz that one wants. How does this imply that electromagnetic ...
13
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5answers
3k views

Why position is not quantized in quantum mechanics?

Usually in all the standard examples in quantum mechanics textbooks the spectrum of the position operator is continuous. Are there (nontrivial) examples where position is quantized? or position ...
8
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4answers
535 views

Formalism to deal with discontinuous potentials in classical mechanics (hard wall, hard spheres)

It seems to me that Hamiltonian formalism does not suit well for problems involving instantaneous change of momentum, like particle collisions with hard wall or hard sphere gas model. At least I could ...
5
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1answer
125 views

Is temperature discrete

Because an object's temperature is inversely proportional to the wavelength of blackbody radiation which it emits, physicists have theorized the existence of Planck temperature at around $1.4×10^{32}$ ...
3
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2answers
218 views

What is the “discrete” analogue to “continuum” mechanics?

If I wanted to explore a discrete mathematics approach to continuum mechanics, what textbooks should I look into? I suppose a ready answer to the question might be: "computational continuum ...
2
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1answer
810 views

Planck time & length

Why is Planck time the shortest possible duration ever? It's defined as the duration needed by light to travel Planck's length, but surely, give me any number, I can give you a lower number than that? ...
2
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2answers
2k views

Continuous vs. Discrete Spectra in various materials

I read that the reason solids emit continuous spectra is that they don't have time to let their electrons decay-they are too close together. Given that electrons decay on the order of 100 nanoseconds ...
1
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2answers
427 views

Quantization of Electron Spin

Why is electron spin quantized? I've seen the derivation for the Hydrogen atom's energy levels, but my professor jumped to electrons having spin 1/2 or -1/2 as experimental. Why do electrons obey the ...
1
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1answer
152 views

Is there a finite unit of distance that we cannot divide past?

If distance could be divided into an infinite no of units or points, then it seems to me that motion would be impossible since a meter for instance, having an infinite no of points within it (and the ...
8
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3answers
2k views

Is space infinitely divisible?

As a child I remember hearing the popular paradox presented by Zeno proposing that Achilles could never catch a tortoise in a race since he would have to traverse the infinite space between himself ...
5
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1answer
387 views

Switching from sum to integral

I'm specifically asking about an equation in An Introduction to Quantum Field Theory, by Peskin and Schroeder. Example from page 374: $$\mathrm{Tr} \log (\partial^2+m^2) = \sum_k \log(-k^2+m^2)$$ ...
5
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1answer
247 views

Discretizing the Wave Equation in polar coordinates

I want to discretize the wave equation $$\frac{1}{c^2}\frac{\partial^2\psi\left(\vec{r},t\right)}{\partial t^2}=\triangle\psi\left(\vec{r},t\right)$$ in polar coordinates. I find the following ...
3
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1answer
270 views

Can universal continuity be experimentally falsified?

It is an unresolved question whether the universe is discrete or continuous in its intricate quantum level structure. See for example: Is the universe finite and discrete? How could spacetime become ...
3
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3answers
599 views

Does the Opera result hint to a discrete spacetime?

Could the Opera result be interpreted as some kind of hint to a discrete spacetime that is only seen for high enough energy neutrinos? I think I've read (some time ago) something like this in a ...
1
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7answers
352 views

Quantization vs. continuous energy levels

I still don't get what it means for atomic energy levels to be continuous or quantitized (incontinuous). Clearing this up will really help me. Also, can anyone tell me why energy levels in solids are ...
1
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1answer
150 views

How is quantization related to commutation? [duplicate]

How are commutation (of observables) and quantization related? Reading about the Stone-Von Neumann Theorem, it seems that commutativity is the classical limit of quantum mechanics, and hence ...
11
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4answers
642 views

Can physics get rid of the continuum?

Almost every physical equation I can think of (even though I don't actually feel comfortable beyond the scope of classical mechanics and macroscopic thermodynamics, as that's enough for dealing with ...
6
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0answers
155 views

Do semiclassical GR and charge quantisation imply magnetic monopoles?

Assuming charge quantisation and semiclassical gravity, would the absence of magnetically charged black holes lead to a violation of locality, or some other inconsistency? If so, how? (I am not ...
4
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3answers
1k views

Do quarks violate quantization of charge?

Does existence of various kinds of quarks like up, down, strange, charm, top, bottom violate the quantisation of charge or just redefine it as up quark have charge +2/3 and have -1/3. Or do things get ...
1
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1answer
134 views

Planck length paradox [closed]

This is a paradox I thought of a few days ago, and I wanted to ask whether it makes any sense and where the mistake is. We know that the nothing but light can move faster than light itself. So in a ...
0
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1answer
97 views

Are there more reasons why we can not be part of an $n$ dimensional Game Of Life?

After talking with a colleague about the possible nature of the limitation of information propagation to c, and how everything can be seen relative to it, we wondered if the nature to this could be ...
4
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4answers
1k views

How can there be really any instantaneous velocity?

I have read about Zeno's arrow paradox that tells us there is no motion of the arrow at a particular instant of its flight. It can be inferred that there can be no velocity at any instant. Moreover we ...
4
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1answer
352 views

What fundamental reasons imply quantization?

In classical wave mechanics, quantization can occur simply from a finite potential well. In quantum mechanics, the quantization is obtained from the Schrödinger equation, which is, to my knowledge, a ...
4
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2answers
434 views

Derivation of the Lagrangian method using discretized time axis

I'm watching this video lecture by Leonard Susskind of Stanford: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3apIZCpmdls After some preliminaries, at 34 minutes he jumps into a discretization of the time axis ...
2
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2answers
332 views

Oil drop experiment and quantization of charge

How to systematically show that the resulting charges in oil drop experiment are integers multiplied by $e$ in other word how to extract $e$ from the data?
2
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1answer
503 views

Is Space-Time Quantisation necessary or even meaningful?

It is believed among people working on Quantum Gravity, that space-time must be quantised at the Planck scale. Although it is very hard to verify such proposition, it is interesting from a ...
1
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1answer
78 views

The proof of a discrete Fourier identity in quantum field theory

On page 25, in the book Quantum Field Theory for the Gifted Amateur by Tom Lancaster and Stephen. J Blundell, it states the following: We impose periodic boundary conditions forcing ...
1
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1answer
166 views

Wannier Functions as Discrete Basis

In solid state physics, using Bloch's theorem we know that the one-electron energy eigen-function can be written as $\psi_{\lambda,\vec{k}}(\vec{r})$ where $\lambda$ indexes eigenvalues of $\hat{H}$ ...
1
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3answers
406 views

Is the energy of a photon continuous/discrete?

I was struggling today with this question: does a free photon have a continuous energy spectra? Free means in no context of any energy system (eg. an atom, em field). Although I'm asking myself if ...