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33
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
74
votes
6answers
2k views

What are the justifying foundations of statistical mechanics without appealing to the ergodic hypothesis?

This question was listed as one of the questions in the proposal (see here), and I didn't know the answer. I don't know the ethics on blatantly stealing such a question, so if it should be deleted or ...
14
votes
3answers
425 views

about the Atiyah-Segal axioms on topological quantum field theory

Trying to go through the page on Topological quantum field theory - The original Atiyah-Segal axioms - "Let $\Lambda$ be a commutative ring with 1, Atiyah originally proposed the axioms of a ...
12
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 ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

Where is the Atiyah-Singer index theorem used in physics?

I'm trying to get motivated in learning the Atiyah-Singer index theorem. In most places I read about it, e.g. wikipedia, it is mentioned that the theorem is important in theoretical physics. So my ...
17
votes
1answer
1k views

Why is there a deep mysterious relation between string theory and number theory, elliptic curves, $E_8$ and the Monster group?

Why is there a deep mysterious relation between string theory and number theory (Langlands program), elliptic curves, modular functions, the exceptional group $E_8$, and the Monster group as in ...
35
votes
2answers
479 views

Physical interpretation of different selfadjoint extensions

Given a symmetric (densely defined) operator in a Hilbert space, there might be quite a lot of selfadjoint extensions to it. This might be the case for a Schrödinger operator with a "bad" potential. ...
22
votes
6answers
3k views

Are there two theories that are mathematically identical but ontologically different?

I have no background in physics but there is a question that has been bothering me, so I'm asking you. Are there at least 2 physical theories that are : Mathematically identical, which means that ...
15
votes
2answers
396 views

Generalized Complex Geometry and Theoretical Physics

I have been wondering about some of the different uses of Generalized Complex Geometry (GCG) in Physics. Without going into mathematical detail (see Gualtieri's thesis for reference), a Generalized ...
13
votes
2answers
722 views

Is the G2 Lie algebra useful for anything?

Seems like all the simpler Lie algebras have a use in one or another branch of theoretical physics. Even the exceptional E8 comes up in string theory. But G2? I've always wondered about that one. ...
10
votes
1answer
256 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, ...
8
votes
0answers
283 views

Noether currents for the BRST tranformation of Yang-Mills fields

The Lagrangian of the Yang-Mills fields is given by $$ \mathcal{L}=-\frac{1}{4}(F^a_{\mu\nu})^2+\bar{\psi}(i\gamma^{\mu} D_{\mu}-m)\psi-\frac{1}{2\xi}(\partial\cdot A^a)^2+ ...
7
votes
1answer
220 views

Are identity types interpreted physically in an infinity-topos formulation of equations of motion?

In reference to Urs Schreibers paper/book on foundations of field theory Differential cohomology in a cohesive infinity-topos I wonder: are identity types there used "only" for the computations, or ...
6
votes
1answer
634 views

CFTs and formalizing quantum field theory

Moshe's recent questions on formalizing quantum field theory and lattices as a definition of field theory remind me of something I occasionally idly wonder about, and maybe this site can tell me the ...
21
votes
3answers
2k views

Why are von Neumann Algebras important in quantum physics?

At the moment I am studying operator algebras from a mathematical point of view. Up to now I have read and heard of many remarks and side notes that von Neumann algebras ($W^*$ algebras) are important ...
11
votes
1answer
189 views

Lie group of Schrodinger Wave equation

In Ballentine's book on quantum mechanics (in 3rd chapter), he introduces the symmetry transformation of Galilean group associated with Schrodinger equation. Now the Galilean group as such has 10 ...
10
votes
1answer
342 views

What's the physical intuition for symplectic structures?

I always thought about symplectic forms as elements of areas in little subspaces because of the Darboux theorem, however I cannot get the physical intuition for it and for the hamiltonian vector ...
8
votes
1answer
301 views

Self-adjoint and unbounded operators in QM

An operator $A$ is said to be self-adjoint if $(\chi,A\psi)=(A\chi,\psi)$ for $\psi, \chi \in D_A$ and $D_A=D_{A^\dagger}$. But for the free particle momentum operator $\hat{p}$ these inner products ...
8
votes
1answer
557 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) ...
8
votes
4answers
477 views

Using supersymmetry outside high energy/particle physics

Are there applications of supersymmetry in other branches of physics other than high energy/particle physics?
18
votes
5answers
2k views

What do theoretical physicists need from computer scientists?

I recently co-authored a paper (not online yet unfortunately) with some chemists that essentially provided answers to the question, "What do chemists need from computer scientists?" This included the ...
10
votes
1answer
384 views

False vacuum in axiomatic QFT

There is an elegant way to define the concept of an unstable particle in axiomatic QFT (let's use the Haag-Kastler axioms for definiteness), namely as complex poles in scattering amplitudes. Stable ...
8
votes
1answer
568 views

Iterated dimensional regularization

Given a 2-loop divergent integral $\int F(q,p)\,\mathrm{d}p\mathrm{d}q$, can it be solved iteratively? I mean I integrate over $p$ keeping $q$ constant Then I integrate over $q$ In both iterated ...
7
votes
0answers
300 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Interesting topics to research in mathematical physics for undergraduates

I'm planning on getting into research in mathematical physics and was wondering about interesting topics I can get into and possibly make some progress on. I'm particularity fond of abstract algebra ...
6
votes
4answers
823 views

Is QFT mathematically self-consistent?

After recently going through a short program of self-study in quantum mechanics, I was surprised to find a quote attributed to Feynman essentially saying he was extremely bothered by the computational ...
4
votes
2answers
200 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
3answers
358 views

How to think physically about basic “fields”

"Field" is a name for associating a value with each point in space. This value can be a scalar, vector or tensor etc. I read the wikipedia article and got that much, but then it goes it into more ...
11
votes
0answers
245 views

What is Motivic mathematics and how is it used in physics?

In a few videos I've seen where he discusses the new approach to calculating the super Yang Mills scattering amplitudes, Nima Arkani-Hamed sometimes alludes to the use of Motivic methods as being ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

What are the mathematical problems in introducing Spin 3/2 fermions?

Can the physics complications of introducing spin 3/2 Rarita-Schwinger matter be put in geometric (or other) terms readily accessible to a mathematician?
9
votes
4answers
475 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
342 views

Use of 'complete' as in 'complete set of states' or 'complete basis'

Question. In the context of QM, I hear the phrases 'complete set of states' and 'complete basis' (among other similar expressions) thrown around rather a lot. What exactly is meant by 'complete'? ...
6
votes
1answer
232 views

Wightman axioms and gauge symmetries

I have a basic understanding of the Wightman axioms for QFT. I was reading the about the Mass Gap problem for simple compact gauge groups and was wondering how the gauge group is supposed to be ...
6
votes
2answers
339 views

Proof for the completeness of eigenfunctions of a self-adjoint operator

I always heard the eigenfunctions of a self-adjoint operator form a complete basis. Where can I find a proof in infinite dimension space? Presumably readable for physicists.
6
votes
2answers
172 views

fitting free QFTs into the Haag-Kastler algebraic formulation

Has the free Klein-Gordon quantum field theory been fitted into the Haag-Kastler algebraic framework? (Actually, John Baez told me "yes", and he should know.) If so, can you describe the basic ...
6
votes
3answers
851 views

Implications of unbounded operators in quantum mechanics

Quantum mechanical observables of a system are represented by self - adjoint operators in a separable complex Hilbert space $\mathcal{H}$. Now I understand a lot of operators ...
5
votes
1answer
116 views

Transport theorem derivation question

I am trying to rigorously go through some fluid mechanics proofs and theorems. I am currently going through a proof related to the transport theorem and I am having trouble with a step. The steps in ...
4
votes
0answers
105 views

Level quantization of 7d $SO(N)$ Chern-Simons action

In 3d, one can write down the $SO(N)$ Chern-Simons action to be $$S(A)=\frac{k}{192\pi}\int_{M}\text{Tr}(A d A +\frac{2}{3}A^3),$$ where $A$ is an $SO(N)$ connection. The level quantization can be ...
4
votes
0answers
98 views

Complex integration by shifting the contour [migrated]

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
3answers
192 views

TQFT associates a category to a manifold

Any 3d TQFT (topological-quantum-field-theory) associates a number to a closed oriented 3-manifold, a vector space to a Riemann surface, a category to a circle, and a 2-category to a point. This ...
4
votes
3answers
335 views

Applying theorem of residues to a correlation function where the Fermi function has no poles

Let $n_F(\omega) = \large \frac{1}{e^{\beta (\omega)} + 1}$ be the Fermi function. A fermionic reservoir correlation function is given by: $$C_{12}(t) = \int_{-\infty}^{+\infty} d\omega~ ...
4
votes
3answers
808 views

Direct Sum of Hilbert spaces

I am a physicist who is not that well-versed in mathematical rigour (a shame, I know! But I'm working on it.) In Wald's book on QFT in Curved spacetimes, I found the following definitions of the ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

Uniqueness of Helmholtz decomposition?

Helmholtz theorem states that given a smooth vector field $\pmb{H}$, there are a scalar field $\phi$ and a vector field $\pmb{G}$ such that $$\pmb{H}=\pmb{\nabla} \phi +\pmb{\nabla} \times \pmb{G},$$ ...
3
votes
1answer
540 views

What is a maximal analytic extension?

Can someone explain (as rigorously as possible) what is involved in analytically continuing, say, the Schwarzschild solution to the Kruskal manifold? I understand the two metrics separately but I'm ...
0
votes
1answer
210 views

Applying theorem of residues to a fermionic reservoir correlation function in order to solve the integral in the CF and obtain a summation

Applying theorem of residues to a fermionic reservoir correlation function in order to solve the integral in the correlation function and obtain a summation.
14
votes
5answers
589 views

Applications of Geometric Topology to Theoretical Physics

Geometric topology is the study of manifolds, maps between manifolds, and embeddings of manifolds in one another. Included in this sub-branch of Pure Mathematics; knot theory, homotopy, manifold ...
9
votes
1answer
337 views

Intuitively Re-Deriving Equations of Mathematical Physics

Using the intuitive interpretation of the Laplacian $\vec{\nabla}^2$ as the difference between the average value of a field in the neighbourhood of a point & the value of the field at that point, ...
8
votes
2answers
390 views

Is the step of analytic continuation unavoidable or can you model around it?

One sometimes considers the analytic continuation of certain quantities in physics and take them seriously. More so than the direct or actual values, actually. For example if you use the procedure ...
7
votes
4answers
257 views

Does Heisenberg equation of motion imply the Schrodinger equation for evolution operator?

Let us choose to postulate (e.g. considering the analogy of the Hamiltonian being a generator of time evolution in classical mechanics) $$ i\hbar \frac{d\hat{U}}{dt}=\hat{H}\hat{U}\tag{1} $$ where ...
6
votes
0answers
210 views

Prequisites to learn Topological Field Theory? [closed]

Sorry for the somewhat qualitative question but what are the essential prerequisites for someone wanting to learn topological field theory from say the more physical side of things? The math side also ...