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45
votes
9answers
4k views

Why are differential equations for fields in physics of order two?

What is the reason for the observation that across the board fields in physics are generally governed by second order (partial) differential equations? If someone on the street would flat out ask ...
79
votes
9answers
15k views

What is a field, really?

There was a reason why I constantly failed physics at school and university, and that reason was, apart from the fact I was immensely lazy, that I mentally refused to "believe" more advanced stuff ...
35
votes
3answers
3k views

Why treat complex scalar field and its complex conjugate as two different fields?

I am new to QFT, so I may have some of the terminology incorrect. Many QFT books provide an example of deriving equations of motion for various free theories. One example is for a complex scalar ...
20
votes
3answers
3k views
40
votes
1answer
5k views

Differentiating Propagator, Greens function, Correlation function, etc

For the following quantities respectively, could someone write down the common definitions, their meaning, the field of study in which one would typically find these under their actual name, and most ...
13
votes
2answers
880 views

Energy-Momentum Tensor in QFT vs. GR

What is the correspondence between the conserved canonical energy-momentum tensor, which is $$ T^{\mu\nu}_{can} := \sum_{i=1}^N\frac{\delta\mathcal{L}_{Matter}}{\delta(\partial_\mu f_i)}\partial^\nu ...
11
votes
4answers
4k views

Lagrangian to Hamiltonian in Quantum Field Theory

While deriving Hamiltonian from Lagrangian density, we use the formula $$\mathcal{H} ~=~ \pi \dot{\phi} - \mathcal{L}.$$ But since we are considering space and time as parameters, why the formula $$\...
9
votes
4answers
613 views

Is the Lagrangian of a quantum field really a 'functional'?

Weinberg says, page 299, The quantum theory of fields, Vol 1, that The Lagrangian is, in general, a functional $L[\Psi(t),\dot{\Psi}(t)$], of a set of generic fields $\Psi[x,t]$ and their time ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Active versus passive transformations

I am a bit confused by the concepts of active and passive transformations. In all the courses I am doing at the moment we do transformations of the form: $$ \phi(x) \rightarrow\phi'(x') = \phi(x) $$ ...
20
votes
1answer
1k views

Why does charge conservation due to gauge symmetry only hold on-shell?

While deriving Noether's theorem or the generator(and hence conserved current) for a continuous symmetry, we work modulo the assumption that the field equations hold. Considering the case of gauge ...
3
votes
2answers
358 views

Classical EM : clear link between gauge symmetry and charge conservation

In the case of classical field theory, Noether's theorem ensures that for a given action $$S=\int \mathrm{d}^dx\,\mathcal{L}(\phi_\mu,\partial_\nu\phi_\mu,x^i)$$ that stays invariant under the ...
6
votes
2answers
613 views

From Lagrangian to Hamiltonian in Fermionic Model

While going from a given Lagrangian to Hamiltonian for a fermionic field, we use the following formula. $$ H = \Sigma_{i} \pi_i \dot{\phi_i} - L$$ where $\pi_i = \dfrac{\partial L}{\partial \dot{\...
3
votes
5answers
582 views

Euclidean geometry in non-inertial frame

Refer, "The classical theory of Fields" by Landau lifshitz (Chap 3). Consider a disk of radius R, then circumference is $2 \pi R$. Now, make this disk rotate at velocity of the order of c(speed of ...
1
vote
1answer
151 views

Equivalence principle for test fields

My question is very simple. We all know that, for a test particle(classical) in a gravitational field, the motion is only determined by the geodesic lines(let's forget about the initial conditions for ...
15
votes
3answers
2k views

Why can't General Relativity be written in terms of physical variables?

I am aware that the field in General Relativity (the metric, $g_{\mu\nu}$) is not completely physical, as two metrics which are related by a diffeomorphism (~ a change in coordinates) are physically ...
3
votes
2answers
121 views

What happens when a field turns on or off?

Short Setup I am curious about the the mechanics of fields, whether electromagnetic, gravitational, etc. So as a specific example in order to simplify (hopefully) how to ask this question, consider ...
2
votes
1answer
678 views

What is meant by a local Lagrangian density?

What is meant by a local Lagrangian density? How will a non-local Lagrangian look like? What is the problem that we do not consider such Lagrangian densities?
1
vote
2answers
919 views

Proving the Lorentz invariance of the Lorentz invariant phase space element

I have been looking around for a satisfactory answer to prove that $$\frac{d^3\vec{p}}{2E_{\vec{p}}}$$ where $E_{\vec{p}}=+\sqrt{(|\vec{p}|c)^2+(mc^2)^2}$, is Lorentz invariant. The standard answer ...
38
votes
4answers
15k views

Why correlation functions?

While this concept is widely used in physics, it is really puzzling (at least for beginners) that you just have to multiply two functions (or the function by itself) at different values of the ...
32
votes
1answer
1k views

Can lightning be used to solve NP-complete problems?

I'm a MS/BS computer science guy who is wondering about why lightning can't (or can?) be used to solve NP complete problems efficiently, but I don't understand the physics behind lightning, so I'm ...
7
votes
3answers
691 views

What are fields?

I'm following my first course in field theory and the professor began, like many books do, by introducing the scalar field. However, I am a bit hesitant about the physical idea of fields. My question ...
3
votes
1answer
126 views

How do we know what type of gauge field to add to a theory?

I've been watching Leonard Susskind's particle physics lectures and in one lecture, he discusses a very simple gauge theory. We have a complex scalar field $\phi(x)$ with Lagrangian $$\mathscr{L} = \...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Need for a side book for E. Soper's Classical Theory Of Fields

I am reading now E. Soper, Classical Theory Of Fields, now and sometimes it is very hard to follow the equations. So I need a side book on classical field theory to read it comfortably. Landau & ...
2
votes
1answer
657 views

Local versus non-local functionals

I'm new to field theory and I don't understand the difference between a "local" functional and a "non-local" functional. Explanations that I find resort to ambiguous definitions of locality and then ...
3
votes
1answer
311 views

Definition of Local Function

Now a days I am studying Srednicki's QFT book. In its third chapter it is written that Any local function of φ(x) is a Lorentz scalar, [...] . Now my question is: What is a local function?
1
vote
1answer
64 views

Lagrangian gauge theory with physically observable local degrees of freedom

In my answer at What, in simplest terms, is gauge invariance?, I mentioned that in certain contexts there can be a "gauge theory" with a local symmetry that leave the Lagrangian/Hamiltonian invariant ...
22
votes
1answer
414 views

What, to a physicist, are instantons and the Donaldson invariants?

I study gauge theory from a mathematical perspective. To me, one of the most fundamental ideas is the notion of an instanton on a 4-manifold. To be precise, I have a Riemannian 4-manifold and a ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

Why is the Yang-Mills gauge group assumed compact and semi-simple?

What is the motivation for including the compactness and semi-simplicity assumptions on the groups that one gauges to obtain Yang-Mills theories? I'd think that these hypotheses lead to physically "...
18
votes
1answer
488 views

Is there a field equation which can reduce into all three flavors of spin (zero, one, one half)?

Is there a known particle field equation of a similar form $$ \begin{equation} (\Gamma^n \pi_n)^2 \Psi = (mc)^2 \Psi \tag{1} \end{equation} $$ such that by reducing the number of degrees of freedom ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

What does a Field Theory mean?

What exactly is a field theory? How do we classify theories as field theories and non field theories? EDIT: After reading the answers I am under the impression that almost every theory is a ...
8
votes
1answer
638 views

Mathematical interpretation of Poisson Brackets

Lets say we are working in a classical scalar field theory and we have two functional $ F[\phi, \pi](x)$ and $G[\phi, \pi](x)$. In most of the references, starting with two functional the Poisson ...
8
votes
3answers
902 views

If particles are excitations what are their fields?

After reading these : http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/july-2013/real-talk-everything-is-made-of-fields http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=682522 It was clear to me that all ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

The equipartition theorem in momentum space

Motivated by the answers to this question on turbulence, I'm interested in an explanation and/or derivation/reference of the equipartition theorem in momentum space. To formulate it as a question: ...
1
vote
2answers
432 views

Derrick’s theorem

Consider a theory in $D$ spatial dimensions involving one or more scalar fields $\phi_a$, with a Lagrangian density of the form $$L= \frac{1}{2} G_{ab}(\phi) \partial_\mu \phi_a \partial^\mu \phi_b- ...
6
votes
1answer
84 views

Is there a systematic way to obtain all conserved quantities of a system?

I'd like to know whether, given a system, there's a way to obtain all the conserved quantities. For instance if the system consists of electric and magnetic fields, the fields must satisfy Maxwell's ...
5
votes
1answer
281 views

Is the long range neutron-antineutron interaction repulsive or attractive?

I can model this interaction as Zee does in "Quantum field theory in a nutshell". In chapter I.4 section "from particle to force" he uses two delta functions for the source. The integral gives $E=-\...
1
vote
0answers
83 views

Self Study Textbook Progression from QM to QFT? [duplicate]

Hello Physics StackExchange! I will put the TL;DR in the beginning: I need a self contained, relatively hand-holding sequence of textbooks that covers up from the end of Griffith's Intro to QM to ...
1
vote
2answers
113 views

Variation of a term in the Lagrangian

I don't understand why $$\frac{\delta}{\delta\phi}\left(\frac12\partial^\mu\phi\partial_\mu\phi\right)~=~\partial^\mu\partial_\mu\phi.\tag{1}$$ If we use integration by parts, there should be a minus ...
1
vote
1answer
151 views

Field theory: equivalence between Hamiltonian and Lagrangian formulation

Let $\mathscr{B}$ be a space of physics we have and $\mathscr{T}$ be the duration. Let $\mathscr{L}$ be a lagrangian density of the field such that the action is a functional of $\phi:\mathbb{R}^4\...
0
votes
1answer
42 views

what the explicit formula magnetic field a electron that moving on the curve path?

,hi,we suppose ,we have a single electron that moving on a curve path,the velocity is v (it is variable),the path moving is a curve not direct path.i saw maxwell equation my question is ,is there a ...
11
votes
1answer
571 views

Auxiliary fields in supersymmetry

I know that auxiliary fields can be used to close the supersymmetry algebra in case the bosonic and fermionic on-shell degrees of freedom do not match. Could somebody please elaborate on this concept ...
7
votes
2answers
236 views

What canonical momenta are the “right” ones?

I'm doing some classical field theory exercises with the Lagrangian $$\mathscr{L} = -\frac{1}{4}F_{\mu \nu}F^{\mu \nu}$$ where $F_{\mu \nu} = \partial_\mu A_\nu - \partial_\nu A_\mu$. To find the ...
5
votes
1answer
392 views

Does spontanous symmetry breaking affect Noethers theorem?

Does spontanous symmetry breaking affect the existence of a conserved charge? And how does depend on whether we look at a classical or a quantum field theory (e.g. the weak interacting theory)? (...
4
votes
1answer
388 views

Noether Current when the Lagrangian depends on second derivative of the fields

Let a Lagrangian density for a field theory of $N$ fields $\left\{\phi_i\right\}_{i=1}^N$ be given. Assume that the Lagrangian density depends on the fields, their spacetime derivatives, and their ...
11
votes
1answer
4k views

The Euler-Lagrange equation in special relativity

How can I derive the Euler-Lagrange equations valid in the field of special relativity? Specifically, consider a scalar field.
8
votes
1answer
583 views

Noether currents in QFT

I am trying to organize my knowledge of Noether's theorem in QFT. There are several questions I would like to have an answer to. In classical field theory, Noether's theorem states that for each ...
12
votes
1answer
792 views

Could this model have soliton solutions?

We consider a theory described by the Lagrangian, $$\mathcal{L}=i\bar{\Psi}\gamma^\mu\partial_\mu\Psi-m\bar{\Psi}\Psi+\frac{1}{2}g(\bar{\Psi}\Psi)^2$$ The corresponding field equations are, $$(i\...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Coordinate Transformation of Scalar Fields in QFT

By definition scalar fields are independent of coordinate system, thus I would expect a scalar field $\psi [x]$ would not change under the transformation $x^\mu \to x^\mu + \epsilon^\mu $. Correct? ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the essence of BCFW recursion techniques?

I have recently briefly read about new methods as the Britto-Cachazo-Feng-Witten (BCFW) on-shell recursion method. Can anybody please tell me about the essence of it? What does it mean for the ...
10
votes
1answer
405 views

What is the quantum state of a static electric field?

This is something that I've been curious about for some time. A coherent, monochromatic electromagnetic wave is well described by a coherent state $|\alpha\rangle$. The quantum treatment of the ...