Scattering is a general term for several physical processes in which radiation of some sort changes direction due to an interaction with a particle. Scattering can be classified by the type of radiation (ie, electromagnetic, x-ray, neutron), or by the relative sizes of the wave and the particle (ie, ...

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5answers
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Scattering of light by light: experimental status

Scattering of light by light does not occur in the solutions of Maxwell's equations (since they are linear and EM waves obey superposition), but it is a prediction of QED (the most significant Feynman ...
32
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9answers
7k views

Why can't we see gases?

I am not sure what causes gas molecules to be invisible.This question may look silly but I really want to know the story behind it.
23
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4answers
2k views

Why does the sky change color?

Why the sky is blue during the day, red during sunrise/set and black during the night?
21
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2answers
718 views

Covariant Description of Light Scattering at a fastly rotating Cylinder

Let us consider the following Gedankenexperiment: A cylinder rotates symmetric around the $z$ axis with angular velocity $\Omega$ and a plane wave with $\mathbf{E}\text{, }\mathbf{B} \propto ...
17
votes
6answers
1k views

Why can we treat quantum scattering problems as time-independent?

From what I remember in my undergraduate quantum mechanics class, we treated scattering of non-relativistic particles from a static potential like this: Solve the time-independent Schrodinger ...
16
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3answers
65k views

Why does the moon sometimes appear giant and a orange red color near the horizon?

I've read various ideas about why the moon looks larger on the horizon. The most reasonable one in my opinion is that it is due to how our brain calculates (perceives) distance, with objects high ...
16
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2answers
765 views

Does the exact string theory $S$-matrix describe all physics there is?

Suppose someone manages to evaluate the string theory $S$-matrix to all orders for any and all vertex operator insertions including non-perturbative contributions from world-sheet instantons and ...
15
votes
2answers
658 views

Why Cronin Effect Happens?

I'm looking for explanation on Cronin effect but unfortunately there's no Wikipedia entry or self-contained paper to start from. The statement of this effect is that: "At leading order, multiple ...
13
votes
4answers
1k views

Tree level QFT and classical fields/particles

It is well known that scattering cross-sections computed at tree level correspond to cross-sections in the classical theory. For example the tree level cross-section for electron-electron scaterring ...
13
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2answers
1k views

What is the physical interpretation of the S-matrix in QFT?

A few closely related questions regarding the physical interpretation of the S-matrix in QFT: I am interested in both heuristic and mathematically precise answers. Given a quantum field theory when ...
12
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1answer
4k views

Phase shifts in scattering theory

I have been studying scattering theory in Sakurai's quantum mechanics. The phase shift in scattering theory has been a major conceptual and computational stumbling block for me. How (if at all) does ...
12
votes
2answers
589 views

Why can the Euler beta function be interpreted as a scattering amplitude?

The Wikipedia article on the Veneziano Amplitude claims that the Euler beta function can be interpretted as a scattering amplitude. Why is this? In another word, when the Euler beta function is ...
11
votes
3answers
952 views

Center-of-mass frame for massless particles

Given a scattering event where a photon and electron go in and a photon and electron come out, what is the center of mass frame? I'd say, since the photon has no mass, it's the rest frame of the ...
11
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3answers
3k views

Why is it necessary for an object to have a bigger size than the wavelength of light in order for us to see it?

I keep hearing this rule that an object must have a bigger size than the wavelength of light in order for us to see it, and though I don't have any professional relationship with physics, I want to ...
11
votes
2answers
347 views

Locality in the scattering amplitude

Early in this talk by Nima Arkani-Hamed, he describes what locality means for scattering amplitudes. "Locality tells you that the only poles in the scattering amplitude occur when the sum of a subset ...
11
votes
1answer
189 views

Why do some sunsets have a green flash?

Some sunsets exhibit a phenomenon called "green flash," where there is a quick flash of green light right as the sun is setting. I have seen this myself several times, and sort of understand it. I am ...
10
votes
3answers
878 views

What is the capture cross-section of a black hole region for ultra-relativistic particles?

What is the capture cross-section of a black hole region for ultra-relativistic particles? I have read that it is $$\sigma ~=~ \frac{27}{4}\pi R^{2}_{s}$$ for a Schwarzschild BH in the geometric ...
10
votes
1answer
609 views

When we define the S-matrix, what are “in” and “out” states?

I have seen the scattering matrix defined using initial ("in") and final ("out") eigenstates of the free hamiltonian, with $$\left| \vec{p}_1 \cdots \vec{p}_n \; \text{out} \right\rangle = S^{-1} ...
9
votes
1answer
507 views

Green's function in path integral approach (QFT)

After having studied canonical quantization and feeling (relatively) comfortable with it, I have now been studying the path integral approach. But I don't feel entirely comfortable with. I have the ...
9
votes
2answers
636 views

Calculation of the cross section

Why, when we calculate the total cross section, we make the average other initial states and the sum over final states?
8
votes
2answers
608 views

Optical theorem and conservation of particle current

The optical theorem $$ \sigma_{tot} = \frac{4\pi}{k} \text{Im}(f(0)) $$ links the total cross section with the imaginary part of the scattering amplitude. My lecture notes say that this is a ...
8
votes
1answer
211 views

There are two definitions of S operator (or S matrix) in quantum field theory. Are they equivalent?

I read several textbooks of QFT and found that there are two kinds of definition of $S$ operator (or S matrix). First kind: Define $\hat{S}$ is map from out space to in space ...
8
votes
1answer
177 views

Significance of Poles of Correlation Function in QFT

In QFT, specifically in scattering processes, what is the physical significance of the poles / residues of the $N$-point correlation function? And why?
7
votes
4answers
365 views

Different kinds of S-matrices?

It seems to me that the notion of an "S-matrix" refers to several different objects One construction you can find in the literature is allowing the coupling constant to adiabatically approach 0 in ...
7
votes
2answers
516 views

Infinite and Finite Square Wells

For the infinite square well in the first region, outside the well: $$\frac{-\hbar^2}{2m}\frac{d^2 \psi}{dx^2} + V(x) \psi (x) = E \psi (x),$$ where you set $V = 0$. Rearranging gives $$\frac{d^2 ...
7
votes
1answer
207 views

Is the total cross section a Lorentz Invariant?

In Peskin and Schroeder's book (P&S), on the botton of page 106, the authors say that the total cross section transforms as its only non-invariant factor, namely: $$ {1 \over E_{A} E_{B} |v_A - ...
7
votes
1answer
320 views

How do ideas of leading singularities and Grassmanian help in curing infrared divergences when calculating N=4 scattering amplitudes?

Broadly speaking how do ideas of leading singularities and Grassmanian help in curing infrared divergences when calculating N=4 scattering amplitudes? My understanding is that one gets infra red ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Proof of Yang's theorem

Yang's theorem states that a massive spin-1 particle cannot decay into a pair of identical massless spin-1 particles. The proof starts by going to the rest frame of the decaying particle, and relies ...
7
votes
1answer
243 views

Setting of renormalization scale in field theory calculations

In dimensional regularization an arbitrary mass parameter $\mu$ must be introduced in going to $4-\epsilon$ dimensions. I am trying to understand to what extent this parameter can be eliminated from ...
7
votes
1answer
168 views

Do small-angle coherent scattering experiments really see coherent effects over arbitrarily large distances?

Short version After integrating over all possible outgoing angles, the total cross-section of coherent elastic scattering from a fixed target of characteristic length $L$ scales like $L^4$. Does ...
7
votes
1answer
113 views

Some more questions about the BCFW reduction

This question is a continuation of this previous question of mine and I am continuing with the same notation. One claims that one can actually split this $n$-gluon amplitude such that there is just ...
7
votes
1answer
152 views

Does QED provide a closed form for Coulomb logarithms?

The classical models for the integrand as well as the cut-offs in computing the Coulomb logarithm are pretty rough. Does quantum electrodynamics have definite expressions for the quantity ...
6
votes
2answers
4k views

Scattering vs bound states

Why are these states called as such, and how do they differ? I vaguely understand that when $E > 0$ you obtain a scattering state, but when $E < 0$ you have a bound state.
6
votes
2answers
519 views

Radiative Corrections and Bremsstrahlung

I am having trouble understanding why it is consistent to include "Breamsstrahlung" diagrams in computations of scattering amplitudes. For example, consider the scattering of two electrons to two ...
6
votes
4answers
435 views

Is forward scattering = no scattering?

What is forward scattering? If it is equivalent to no scattering, then why not call it "no scattering"?
6
votes
2answers
393 views

Blue-shifting as opposed to violet-shifting

A recent XKCD comic implies that the sky is blue as opposed to violet due to human physiology, and that animals more sensitive to shorter wavelengths will perceive the Earth's sky as the shortest ...
6
votes
4answers
550 views

Far-field intensity from scattering of small particles

Howdy, I'm building a simulation for looking at the light field underwater. In order to verify my simulation, I'm looking for some data showing the far-field intensity that comes from single ...
6
votes
2answers
913 views

How do we distinguish between virtual particle exchange and particle decay?

The difference between virtual particles and unstable particles is discussed at length in this question (namely, virtual particles correspond to internal lines in Feynman diagrams and are not ...
6
votes
1answer
366 views

BBC radiation: What is it?

I'm reading articles about blazars, and in a discussion about models concerning Blazar SEDs (Spectral Energy Densities) there are mentions of different processes: Sychrotron scattering, inverse ...
6
votes
1answer
146 views

Importance of MHV amplitudes

Why are MHV amplitudes so important? How/where are they used and why do people keep trying to rederive them in many different ways?
6
votes
1answer
268 views

Database of scattering amplitudes

I want to check whether my result for the invariant amplitude of the electron-electron scattering (to lowest order in $\alpha$; t+u channels) is correct or not. I can't find any reference that has ...
6
votes
1answer
625 views

What does the Rayleigh Phase Function tell us

I am working on some radiative transfer equations, and struggling as I'm fairly new to this field. I have read about the Rayleigh Phase Function which is: $P(\theta) = \frac{3}{4}(1 + cos^2 \theta)$ ...
6
votes
4answers
573 views

Origin of Rayleigh scattering

Is Rayleigh scattering simply the elementary result of scattering theory, that, at low energies (long wavelengths) the scattering is dominated by $s$-wave scattering?
6
votes
2answers
239 views

How to replace $T$-product with retarded commutator in LSZ formula?

I am reading Itzykson and Zuber's Quantum Field Theory book, and am unable to understand a step that is made on page 246: Here, they consider the elastic scattering of particle $A$ off particle $B$: ...
6
votes
0answers
180 views

Eikonal approximation in QFT

Does the eikonal approximation for calculating a scattering amplitude in QFT provide the exact result in the limit of $s\rightarrow\infty$ at finite $t=0$ ($s$ and $t$ are the usual Mandelstam ...
5
votes
2answers
292 views

Why must an integrating sphere be a sphere?

Why must an integrating sphere be a sphere? Why can't it be an integrating cube? What is the difference? Could I use a cube to measure total illuminance like an integrating sphere does?
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Why are scattering matrices unitary?

In Griffith's QM book, he introduces scattering matrices as an end-of-the-chapter problem. For a Dirac-Delta potential $V(x) = \alpha \delta (x - x_0)$, I've derived the scattering matrix and ...
5
votes
3answers
648 views

Particle coming across a step potential barrier

My quantum mechanics textbook says that when a particle (in the classical case) comes across a potential-step barrier of finite height, if it has sufficient energy to surmount the barrier, it will ...
5
votes
3answers
568 views

Physical interpretation of infinite total cross section

What does it tell us about a process, say A+B->C+D, if the calculated total cross section is infinite?
5
votes
1answer
291 views

Charge Renormalization and Photon Propagator

I'm trying to understand charge renormalization in QED. I know that one can write the full photon propagator as $$\frac{-i\eta_{\mu\nu}}{q^2(1-\Pi(q^2))}$$ where $\Pi$ is regular at $0$. Obviously ...