# Tagged Questions

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### 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 ...
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### 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 ...
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### 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 ...
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 ...
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### 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 ...
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### 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 ...
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### 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 ...
3k views

### Why are higher order Lagrangians called 'non-local'?

And in what sense are they 'non-local'?
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### 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 ...
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### 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 $$$$(\Gamma^n \pi_n)^2 \Psi = (mc)^2 \Psi \tag{1}$$$$ such that by reducing the number of degrees of freedom ...
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### Can one write down a Hamiltonian in the absence of a Lagrangian?

How can I define the Hamiltonian independent of the Lagrangian? For instance, let's assume that i have a set of field equations that cannot be integrated to an action. Is there any prescription to ...
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 ...
2k views

### History of Electromagnetic Field Tensor

I'm curious to learn how people discovered that electric and magnetic fields could be nicely put into one simple tensor. It's clear that the tensor provides many beautiful simplifications to the ...
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 "...
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: $$\phi(x) \rightarrow\phi'(x') = \phi(x)$$ ...
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### Inverting the equation for $T_{\mu\nu}$ in terms of $F_{\mu\nu}$

The Stress-Energy Tensor for electromagnetism is given by: $$T_{\mu \nu} = F_{\mu}\,^{\alpha}F_{\nu\alpha}-\frac{1}{4}g_{\mu\nu}F_{\alpha\beta}F^{\alpha\beta}$$ How can I find $F_{\mu\nu}$ in ...
350 views

### Why is fundamental physics taught in terms of particles?

According to this paper, there can be no relativistic quantum theory of localizeable particles ("relativity plus quantum mechanics exclusively requires a field ontology"). Sean Caroll has also argued ...
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### 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 ...
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 ...
522 views

### Why must the field equations be differential?

In Landau–Lifshitz's Course of Theoretical Physics, Vol. 2 (‘Classical Fields Theory’), Ch. IV, § 27, there is an explanation why the field equations should be linear differential equations. It goes ...
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### Lagrangian for Goldstone mode + topological excitation

The XY-model Hamiltonian is the following, $${\cal H}~=~-J\sum_{\langle i,j\rangle} \cos (\theta_i -\theta_j).$$ The Goldstone mode corresponds to term $(\nabla \theta)^2$ in the effective ...
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### Is it known what the necessary and sufficient conditions are for the existence of a “3+1 split” (by means of a foliation) of a (Lorentzian) manifold?

When trying to do physics on a more general pseudo-Riemannian manifold we want to require that there is a foliation of this manifold into three-dimensional subspaces. By this I mean we would like to ...
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### Does Noether's theorem also give rise to quantities conserved over space?

Noether's theorem gives rise to quantities that are conserved over time. But does it also give rise to quantities that are conserved over space?
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