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3answers
1k 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
799 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
593 views

Quantum mechanics in a metric space rather than in a vector space, possible?

Quantum mechanics starts with wave functions living in Hilbert space. But later for Born's interpretation, the wave function need to be of unit energy (I mean total probability = 1, ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

What does John Conway and Simon Kochen's “Free Will” Theorem mean?

The way it is sometimes stated is that if we have a certain amount of "free will", then, subject to certain assumptions, so must some elementary particles."(Wikipedia) That is confusing to me, ...
10
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5answers
479 views

Motivation for tensor product in Physics

This question is about a mathematical object (the tensor product) but thinking about the motivation that comes from Physics. Algebraists motivate the tensor product like that: "given $k$ vector spaces ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

EM wave function & photon wavefunction

According to this review Photon wave function. Iwo Bialynicki-Birula. Progress in Optics 36 V (1996), pp. 245-294. arXiv:quant-ph/0508202, a classical EM plane wavefunction is a wavefunction (in ...
26
votes
11answers
2k views

Negative probabilities in quantum physics

Negative probabilities are naturally found in the Wigner function (both the original one and its discrete variants), the Klein paradox (where it is an artifact of using a one-particle theory) and the ...
6
votes
1answer
344 views

Double connectivity of $SO(3)$ group manifold

Is there any physical significance of the fact that the group manifold (parameter space) of $SO(3)$ is doubly connected? EDIT 1: Let me clarify my question. It was too vague. There exists two ...
8
votes
2answers
958 views

Introductory texts for functionals and calculus of variation

I am going to learn some math about functionALs (like functional derivative, functional integration, functional Fourier transform) and calculus of variation. Just looking forward to any good ...
3
votes
2answers
4k views

How does the sum of the series “1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6…” to infinity = “-1/12”? [duplicate]

How does the sum of the series “1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6…” to infinity = “-1/12”, in the context of physics? I heard Lawrence Krauss say this once during a debate with Hamza Tzortzis ...
5
votes
5answers
396 views

Infinite series of derivatives of position when starting from rest

Suppose you have an object with zero for the value of all the derivatives of position. In order to get the object moving you would need to increase the value of the velocity from zero to some finite ...
27
votes
13answers
4k views

Suggested reading for renormalization (not only in QFT)

What papers/books/reviews can you suggest to learn what Renormalization "really" is? Standard QFT textbooks are usually computation-heavy and provide little physical insight in this regard - after my ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

Applications of the Spectral Theorem to Quantum Mechanics

I'm currently learning some basic functional analysis. Yesterday I arrived at the spectral theorem of self-adjoint operators. I've heard that this theorem has lots of applications in Quantum ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

What is a dual / cotangent space?

Dual spaces are home to bras in quantum mechanics; cotangent spaces are home to linear maps in the tensor formalism of general relativity. After taking courses in these two subjects, I've still never ...
12
votes
6answers
1k views

Does the Banach-Tarski paradox contradict our understanding of nature?

Since the Banach-Tarski paradox makes a statement about domains defined in terms of real numbers, it would appear to invalidate statements about nature that we derived by applying real analysis. My ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Book covering Topology required for physics and applications

I am a physics undergrad, and interested to learn Topology so far as it has use in Physics. Currently I am trying to study Topological solitons but bogged down by some topological concepts. I am not ...
15
votes
6answers
620 views

Which QFTs were rigorously constructed?

Which QFTs have mathematically rigorous constructions a la AQFT? I understand there are many such constructions in 2D, in particular 2D CFT has been extensively studied mathematically. But even in 2D ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Mathematical Physics Book Recommendation [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Best books for mathematical background? I want to learn contemporary mathematical physics, so that, for example, I can read Witten's latest paper without checking other ...
5
votes
1answer
3k views

Gabriele Veneziano, strong nuclear force and beta-function

Background to the question: From The History of String Theory: Gabriele Veneziano, a research fellow at CERN (a European particle accelerator lab) in 1968, observed a strange coincidence - many ...
9
votes
2answers
892 views

The derivation of fractional equations

Recently I saw some physical problems that can be modeled by equations with fractional derivatives, and I had some doubts: is it possible to write an action that results in an equation with fractional ...
6
votes
5answers
923 views

What is the meaning of following expression $C=\frac{\delta Q}{dT}$ mathematically?

Our professor raised the following question during our lecture in Statistical Physics (even so it's related to Thermodynamics): Many text books (even Wikipedia) writes wrong expressions (from ...
4
votes
1answer
199 views

Bounded and Unbounded Operator

Can someone explain with a concrete example of how can I can check whether a quantum mechanical operator is bounded or unbounded? EDIT: For example., I would like to check whether $\hat ...
9
votes
4answers
621 views

Why are the inner products of the eigenfunctions of an operator with a discrete eigenvalue spectrum guaranteed to exist?

I was reading through a textbook, and the statement was made that the inner products are guaranteed to exist if the eigenvalue spectrum of the operator is discrete. I have come across no support for ...
14
votes
4answers
1k views

Does the axiom of choice appear to be “true” in the context of physics?

I have been wondering about the axiom of choice and how it relates to physics. In particular, I was wondering how many (if any) experimentally-verified physical theories require axiom of choice (or ...
4
votes
2answers
682 views

Normalization of the path integral

When one defines the path integral propagator, there is the need to normalize the propagator (since it would give you a probability density). There are two formulas which are used. 1) Original ...
3
votes
1answer
870 views

Are There Strings that aren't Chew-ish?

String theory is made from Chew-ish strings, strings which follow Geoffrey Chew's S-matrix principle. These strings have the property that all their scattering is via string exchange, so that the ...
7
votes
4answers
402 views

Complex integration by shifting the contour

In section 12.11 of Jackson's Classical Electrodynamics, he evaluates an integral involved in the Green function solution to the 4-potential wave equation. Here it is: $$\int_{-\infty}^\infty dk_0 ...
4
votes
2answers
441 views

How do I define time-ordering for Wightman functions?

This is a follow-up question to What are Wightman fields/functions Ok, so based on my reading, the field operators of a theory are understood to be operator-valued distributions, that is, to be ...
6
votes
1answer
458 views

Why Zeta regularization is not valid for multiple-loops?

Why zeta regularization only valid at one-loop? I mean there are zeta regularizations for multiple zeta sums. Also we could use the zeta regularization iteratively on each variable to obtain finite ...
41
votes
2answers
2k views

Intuitively, why are bundles so important in Physics?

This question probably seems silly and I don't really know if it fits properly here, but the point is the following: I've seem the notion of bundles, fiber bundles, connections on bundles and so on ...
18
votes
5answers
4k views

A pedestrian explanation of conformal blocks

I would be very happy if someone could take a stab at conveying what conformal blocks are and how they are used in conformal field theory (CFT). I'm finally getting the glimmerings of understanding ...
15
votes
5answers
2k views

“Velvet way” to Grassmann numbers

In my opinion, the Grassmann number "apparatus" is one of the least intuitive things in modern physics. I remember that it took a lot of effort when I was studying this. The problem was not in the ...
38
votes
2answers
1k views

Can we infer the existence of periodic solutions to the three-body problem from numerical evidence?

I recently found out about the discovery of 13 beautiful periodic solutions to the three-body problem, described in the paper Three Classes of Newtonian Three-Body Planar Periodic Orbits. Milovan ...
23
votes
1answer
2k views

What does it mean that there is no mathematical proof for confinement?

I see this all the time* that there still doesn't exist a mathematical proof for confinement. What does this really mean and how would a sketch of a proof look like? What I mean by that second ...
17
votes
1answer
1k views

Intuitive meaning of Hilbert Space formalism

I am totally confused about the Hilbert Space formalism of Quantum Mechanics. Can somebody please elaborate on the following points: The observables are given by self-adjoint operators on the ...
5
votes
1answer
364 views

How do you go from quantum electrodynamics to Maxwell's equations?

I've read and heard that quantum electrodynamics is more fundamental than maxwells equations. How do you go from quantum electrodynamics to Maxwell's equations?
16
votes
1answer
643 views

What does it mean for a QFT to not be well-defined?

It is usually said that QED, for instance, is not a well-defined QFT. It has to be embedded or completed in order to make it consistent. Most of these arguments amount to using the renormalization ...
10
votes
1answer
311 views

Conceptual difficulty in understanding Continuous Vector Space

I have an extremely ridiculous doubt that has been bothering me, since I started learning quantum mechanics. If we consider the finite dimensional vector space for the spin$\frac{1}{2}$ particles, ...
9
votes
6answers
833 views

In coordinate-free relativity, how do we define a vector?

Relativity can be developed without coordinates: Laurent 1994 (SR), Winitzski 2007 (GR). I would normally define a vector by its transformation properties: it's something whose components change ...
8
votes
0answers
508 views

When can we take the Brillouin zone to be a sphere?

When reading some literatures on topological insulators, I've seen authors taking Brillouin zone(BZ) to be a sphere sometimes, especially when it comes to strong topological insulators. Also I've seen ...
7
votes
3answers
286 views

Is the harmonic oscillator potential unique in having equally spaced discrete energy levels?

I was wondering if the good old quadratic potential was the only potential with equally spaced eigenvalues. Obviously you can construct others, such as a potential that is infinite in some places and ...
6
votes
3answers
440 views

Is there any relationship between gauge field and spin connection?

For a spinor on curved spacetime, $D_\mu$ is the covariant derivative for fermionic fields is $$D_\mu = \partial_\mu - \frac{i}{4} \omega_{\mu}^{ab} \sigma_{ab}$$ where $\omega_\mu^{ab}$ are the spin ...
6
votes
3answers
3k views

What math do I need for mathematical physics? In what manner should I learn math? [closed]

I'm a freshman undergraduate. I've got my sight on mathematical physics. I love math but I don't have the talent nor the inclination for purely abstract mathematics. I also love physics. The only ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

Plane wave expansion in cylindrical coordinates

I am trying to solve scattering problem in 2D and got to expand the wave function in cylindrical system which comes out to be Hankel function. Can you tell me how to expand the plane wave $\exp(i ...
12
votes
2answers
267 views

When are there enough Casimirs?

I know that a Casimir for a Lie algebra $\mathfrak{g}$ is a central element of the universal enveloping algebra. For example in $\mathfrak{so}(3)$ the generators are the angular momentum operators ...
8
votes
1answer
854 views

Divergent Series

Why is it that divergent series make sense? Specifically, by basic calculus a sum such as $1 - 1 + 1 ...$ describes a divergent series (where divergent := non-convergent sequence of partial sums) ...
4
votes
4answers
681 views

Final theory in Physics: a mathematical existence proof?

Some time ago, I read something like this about the issue of "a final theory" in Physics: "Concerning the physical laws, we have several positions as scientists There are no fundamental physical ...
4
votes
2answers
241 views

Infinitely many planets on a line, with Newtonian gravity

(I apologize if this question is too theoretical for this site.) This is related to the answer here, although I came up with it independently of that. $\:$ Suppose we have a unit mass planet at each ...
3
votes
1answer
226 views

Susy QM and Atiyah-Singer index theorem

Consider maps $t\mapsto x^i(t)$ from circle to some Riemannian (spin) manifold and lagrangian $$ \mathcal L = \frac12 g_{ij}(x) \partial_t x^i \partial_t x^j + \frac12 g_{ij} \psi^j \left(\delta^i_k ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

When is Lebesgue integration useful over Riemann integration in physics?

Riemann integration is fine for physics in general because the functions dealt with tend to be differentiable and well behaved. Despite this, it's possible that Lebesque integration can be more ...