We say that something is symmetric if there is some transformation we can perform on that object that leaves some property unchanged. The set of symmetry transformations of an object form a group, and the name of this group is used as the name of the symmetry of the object.

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2answers
918 views

Time reversal symmetry and T^2 = -1

I'm a mathematician interested in abstract QFT. I'm trying to undersand why, under certain (all?) circumstances, we must have $T^2 = -1$ rather than $T^2 = +1$, where $T$ is the time reversal ...
11
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5answers
831 views

Form of the Classical EM Lagrangian

So I know that for an electromagnetic field in a vacuum the Lagrangian is $\mathcal L=-\frac 1 4 F^{\mu\nu} F_{\mu\nu}$, the standard model tells me this. What I want to know is if there is an ...
11
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2answers
3k views

Spontaneous Time Reversal Symmetry Breaking?

It is known that you can break P spontaneously--- look at any chiral molecule for an example. Spontaneous T breaking is harder for me to visualize. Is there a well known condensed matter system which ...
11
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3answers
1k views

How can one see that the Hydrogen atom has $SO(4)$ symmetry?

For solving hydrogen atom energy level by $SO(4)$ symmetry, where does the symmetry come from? How can one see it directly from the Hamiltonian?
11
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2answers
772 views

How are anyons possible?

If $|ψ\rangle$ is the state of a system of two indistinguishable particles, then we have an exchange operator $P$ which switches the states of the two particles. Since the two particles are ...
11
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1answer
341 views

Why do we classify states under covering groups instead of the group itself?

Why do we always classify states under covering group representations instead of the group itself? For example see the following picture I lifted from 'Symmetry in physics' by Gross So in the first ...
10
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3answers
3k views

Noether's current expression in Peskin and Schroeder

In the second chapter of Peskin and Schroeder, An Introduction to Quantum Field Theory, it is said that the action is invariant if the Lagrangian density changes by a four-divergence. But if we ...
10
votes
3answers
585 views

Is hydrogen the same everywhere?

Silly thought. Feel free to shoot it down Does a hydrogen atom undergo any kind of change subject to it's environment? If one were to study a hydrogen atom on the surface of Mercury, another above ...
10
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2answers
657 views

Groups acting on physics - a clarification on electrons and spin

My first question is fairly basic, but I would like to clarify my understanding. The second question is to turn this into something worth answering. Consider a relativistic electron, described by a ...
10
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5answers
2k views

Noether Theorem and Energy conservation in classical mechanics

I have a problem deriving the conservation of energy from time translation invariance. The invariance of the Lagrangian under infinitesimal time displacements $t \rightarrow t' = t + \epsilon$ can be ...
10
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3answers
490 views

When do phase space functions' Poisson brackets inherit the Lie algebra structure of a symmetry?

I've seen several examples of phase space functions whose Poisson brackets (or Dirac brackets) have the same algebra as the Lie algebra of some symmetry. For example, for plain old particle motion in ...
10
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1answer
455 views

Invariance of Functional Integration Measure

Let us consider the functional integral: \begin{equation} \int \mathcal{D} A e^{iS[A]} \end{equation} where $S[A]$ is the action for $U(1)$ gauge field and \begin{equation} \mathcal{D}A\equiv \...
10
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1answer
659 views

The Ozma Problem

The "Ozma problem" was coined by Martin Gardner in his book "The Ambidextrous Universe", based on Project Ozma. Gardner claims that the problem of explaining the humans left-right convention would ...
10
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1answer
318 views

What exactly do we mean by symmetry in physics?

I'm referring here to invariance of the Lagrangian under Lorentz transformations. There are two possibilities: Physics does not depend on the way we describe it (passive symmetry). We can choose ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Dirac spinors under Parity transformation or what do the Weyl spinors in a Dirac spinor really stand for?

My problem is understanding the transformation behaviour of a Dirac spinor (in the Weyl basis) under parity transformations. The standard textbook answer is $$\Psi^P = \gamma_0 \Psi = \begin{...
10
votes
1answer
236 views

Intuition for S-duality

first of all, I need to confess my ignorance with respect to any physics since I'm a mathematician. I'm interested in the physical intuition of the Langlands program, therefore I need to understand ...
10
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0answers
100 views

Degenaracy in mass of $8$ and $27$ reps of $SU(3)$ in Coleman's Aspects of Symmetry [closed]

In Coleman's Aspect of symmetry he proposes an amusing problem in the first chapter. It asks us to consider a set of eight pseudo-scalar fields transforming in the adjoint representation of $SU(3)$. ...
10
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0answers
342 views

Extended Born relativity, Nambu 3-form and ternary (n-ary) symmetry

Background: Classical Mechanics is based on the Poincare-Cartan two-form $$\omega_2=dx\wedge dp$$ where $p=\dot{x}$. Quantum mechanics is secretly a subtle modification of this. By the other hand, ...
9
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3answers
546 views

What is the exact meaning of homogeneity in cosmology?

I understand that, in general, homogeneity is the physical attribute of being uniform in composition (" of the same form at every point"), but I'm slightly confused when it is used in cosmology as ...
9
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2answers
2k views

Deriving the action and the Lagrangian for a free point particle in Special Relativity

My question relates to Landau & Lifshitz, Classical Theory of Field, Chapter 2: Relativistic Mechanics, Paragraph 8: The principle of least action. As stated there, to determine the action ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Can someone give a simple expose on Coleman Mandula theorem and what Mandelstam variables are?

Can someone give a simple expose on Coleman Mandula theorem and what Mandelstam variables are? Coleman-Mandula is often cited as being the key theorem that leads us to consider Supersymmetry for ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Poincare group vs Galilean group

One can define the Poincare group as the group of isometries of the Minkowski space. Is its Lie algebra given either by the equations 2.4.12 to 2.4.14 (..as also given in this page - http://en....
9
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1answer
635 views

Confusion in a trick in solving an energy eigenfunction

Given a non-relativistic energy eigenfunction for a central potential $\left|\Phi \right>$ In solving relativistic hydrogen atom, one of the terms is $$ \left<\Phi\middle|\frac{e^2}{r}\middle|\...
9
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3answers
38k views

What is difference between homogeneous vs isotropic material?

When we say a material is isotropic? When properties such as density, Young's modulus etc. are same in all directions. If these properties are direction dependent, then we can say that the material is ...
9
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2answers
2k views

Why is the stress-energy tensor symmetric?

The relativistic stress-energy tensor $T$ is important in both special and general relativity. Why is it symmetric, with $T_{\mu\nu}=T_{\nu\mu}$? As a secondary question, how does this relate to the ...
9
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1answer
129 views

Global symmetry in string theory

It is often stated that in quantum gravity only charges coupled to gauge fields can be conserved. This is because of the no hair theorem. If a charge is coupled to a gauge field then when it falls ...
9
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1answer
1k views

Is Conformal Symmetry Local or Global?

I'm just brushing up on a bit of CFT, and I'm trying to understand whether conformal symmetry is local or global in the physics sense. Obviously when the metric is viewed as dynamical then the ...
9
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4answers
441 views

Symmetries of a Free Massless Scalar in Two Dimensions

On p. 49 of Polchinski's book, he says: "Incidentally, the free massless scalar in two dimensions has a remarkably large amount of symmetry -- much more than we will have occasion to mention." Does ...
9
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2answers
566 views

When “unphysical” solutions are not actually unphysical

When solving problems in physics, one often finds, and ignores, "unphysical" solutions. For example, when solving for the velocity and time taken to fall a distance h (from rest) under earth gravity: ...
9
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4answers
716 views

What role does “spontaneously symmetry breaking” played in the “Higgs Mechanism”?

In talking about Higgs mechanism, the first part is always some introduction to the concept of spontaneously symmetry breaking (SSB), some people saying that Higgs mechanism is the results of SSB of ...
9
votes
1answer
679 views

How to model a symmetry using Lie Groups?

I have been reading lately about Lie groups, and although all books keep listing the groups, and talk about Lie algebras and all that, one thing I still don't know how is it made, and I guess it's the ...
9
votes
2answers
236 views

More general invariance of the action functional

I will formulate my question in the classical case, where things are simplest. Usually when one discusses a continuous symmetry of a theory, one means a one-parameter group of diffeomorphisms of the ...
9
votes
1answer
212 views

Confusion about two definitions of anomalies

As I am currently studying for an exam about quantum field theory and string theory, I got confused about the notion of "anomalies" and how they are actually defined. Similar questions have already ...
9
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1answer
1k views

Explaining chirality for spin 1/2 particle

I found the following explanation for chirality for spin 1/2 particles here What happens when you rotate a left- vs right-chiral fermion 360 degree about its direction of motion. Both ...
9
votes
1answer
490 views

Why does a transformation to a rotating reference frame NOT break temporal scale invariance?

Naively, I thought that transforming a scale invariant equation (such as the Navier-Stokes equations for example) to a rotating reference frame (for example the rotating earth) would break the ...
9
votes
2answers
301 views

Is there a mathematical reason for the Lagrangian to be Lorentz invariant?

The Hamiltonian is the energy, which is just one component of a four-vector and therefore not Lorentz invariant. The Lagrangian is the Legendre transform of the Hamiltonian and I was wondering if ...
9
votes
5answers
559 views

Seeking a quality plain-language description of the Wigner-Eckart theorem

I'm a third year physics undergrad with a very cursory knowledge of quantum mechanics and the formalism involved. For instance, I understand roughly how tensors work and what it means for a tensor to ...
9
votes
1answer
413 views

How does the electron electric dipole moment (EDM) depend on supersymmetry?

I have read a recent paper that says that limit on the EDM of the electron has now been measured to 12 times better accuracy. According to that paper, as I understood, there should be a difference in ...
8
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2answers
362 views

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?
8
votes
3answers
998 views

What are particle multiplets in the Standard Model?

The particles of the standard model are often displayed in groupings known as multiplets. I know that this somehow relates to the underlying symmetries of the standard model, which can be viewed as ...
8
votes
2answers
537 views

Must every isometry have an associated Killing vector?

I understand that the flows of Killing vector fields are isometries, and that one-parameter groups of isometries have an associated Killing vector which generates them, but are your Killing vectors ...
8
votes
2answers
608 views

Precise statement of Mermin–Wagner theorem

Roughly speaking, Mermin-Wagner theorem states that continuous symmetries cannot be spontaneously broken at finite temperature in systems with sufficiently short-range interactions in dimensions $d\...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Deriving Birkhoff's Theorem

I am trying to derive Birkhoff's theorem in GR as an exercise: a spherically symmetric gravitational field is static in the vacuum area. I managed to prove that $g_{00}$ is independent of t in the ...
8
votes
1answer
3k views

Physical significance of Killing vector field along geodesic

Let us denote by $X^i=(1,\vec 0)$ the Killing vector field and by $u^i(s)$ a tangent vector field of a geodesic, where $s$ is some affine parameter. What physical significance do the scalar quantity $...
8
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7answers
1k views

What does the statement “the laws of physics are invariant” mean?

In the first paragraph of Wikipedia's article on special relativity, it states one of the assumptions of special relativity is the laws of physics are invariant (i.e., identical) in all inertial ...
8
votes
2answers
178 views

Why are these two definitions for symmetries in the Lagrangian equivalent?

I have heard the following two definitions for a symmetry of the Lagrangian: If under a coordinate transformation the form of the Lagrangian remains unchanged then there is a symmetry. If $\delta \...
8
votes
1answer
454 views

Invariance of action $\Rightarrow$ covariance of field equations?

Invariance of action $\Rightarrow$ covariance of field equations? Is this statement true? I have only seen examples of this, like the invariance of Electromagnetic action under Lorentz ...
8
votes
2answers
666 views

Why are conformal transformations so prevalent in physics?

What is it about conformal transformations that make them so widely applicable in physics? These preserve angles, in other words directions (locally), and I can understand that might be useful. Also, ...
8
votes
1answer
284 views

Symmetries of AdS$_3$, $SO(2,2)$ and $SL(2,\mathbb{R})\times SL(2,\mathbb{R})$

Basically, I want to know how one can see the $SL(2,\mathbb{R})\times SL(2,\mathbb{R})$ symmetry of AdS$_3$ explicitly. AdS$_3$ can be defined as hyperboloid in $\mathbb{R}^{2,2}$ as $$ X_{-1}^2+X_0^...
8
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3answers
1k views

What is kappa symmetry?

On page 180 David McMohan explains that to obtain a (spacetime) supersymmetric action for a GS superstring one has to add to the bosonic part $$ S_B = -\frac{1}{2\pi}\int d^2 \sigma \sqrt{h}h^{\alpha\...