# Tag Info

23

Maxwellian electrodynamics fails when quantum mechanical phenomena are involved, in the same way that Newtonian mechanics needs to be replaced in that regime by quantum mechanics. Maxwell's equations don't really "fail", as there is still an equivalent version in QM, it's just the mechanics itself that changes. Let me elaborate on that one for a bit. In ...

20

It is a standard exercise in quantum electrodynamics to find the angular dependence of the differential cross section. Which more or less means how probable it is for the photons to scatter at a certain angle, given the energy of the incident particles. So assuming the spins of the electron-positron pair is averaged, and that you don't care about the photon ...

12

Absolutely. If Compton scattering occurred in first order in $e$, the only contributing diagram would be the obvious one. Say we're in a frame with the electron initially at rest and an incoming photon in the $z$ direction. Then the electron 4-momentum is $$p^\mu_{\text{in}} = (m,0,0,0)$$ while the photon 4-momentum is $$k^\mu_{\text{in}} = ... 11 It is not a good idea to see a Feynman diagram as some sort of collision process really happening. The diagram is just a term in the perturbative expansion of a quantum mechanical transition amplitude (in other words, a nice "graphical" way to represent a bunch of integrals). The only actual observed objects are two incoming photons with a certain energy, ... 11 The classical Coulomb potential can be recovered in the non-relativistic limit of the tree-level Feynman diagram between two charged particles. Applying the Born approximation to QM scattering, we find that the scattering amplitude for a process with interaction potential V(x) is$$\mathcal{A}(\lvert p \rangle \to \lvert p'\rangle) - 1 = 2\pi \delta(E_p ...

11

(I henceforth assume $c= \hbar=1$.) It is forbidden by the four-momentum conservation law. Put yourself in the centre of mass reference frame of the couple of massive particles (electron and positron). There $P_{e\overline{e}} = (2E,\vec{0})$ with $E\geq m_e>0$. Just because four momentum is conserved, this four-momentum must be the same as the one of the ...

10

But what we never seem to see is why the electron and positron move the way that they do. Saying "they move like they do because of the force on them" doesn't explain anything at all. It's a non-answer. The equation of motion for charge particle (electron,positron) in magnetic field is $$m\frac{d}{dt}\left(\frac{\mathbf ... 10 After the hypothetical split, 2 photons with the same energy would be propagating at an angle ok with momentum conservation. Then there would be a rest frame where the angle is 180 degrees. Now if you stay in this restframe and go back in time before the split, your single photon would be at rest. However, that is not possible: According to relativity, speed ... 9 Would you dig a ditch with a surgeons scalpel? Yes, quantum mechanics ultimately underlies all physical observations but the mathematical expressions for large dimensions with respect to \hbar become cumbersome and are replaced by the simplest ones for the appropriate study. Thermodynamics, for the study of bulk matter, blends smoothly with quantum ... 9 Virtual particles are not real. They come, as I've said in many answers on this site, from a naive interpretation of Feynman diagrams which should not be taken as an actual, exact description of how the physics works. The actual description of an interaction in the quantum field theory is more complicated than "photons are exchanged". In particular, ... 9 Part b) is a big mathematical physics topic in its own right. The divergent tail of an asymptotic series is not garbage, rather it contains a lot of information that together with some additional information can be used to compute non-perturbative effects. A general introduction to this topic is given here. There are different approaches possible, some ... 9 The fundamental particles we know today (of which the photon is one) are called fundamental exactly because they have no substructure, or indeed, spatial extent, we know of. They are point-like when localized. Note that these "particles" are quantum objects, not classical particles, so you should not imagine them as points whizzing about in space - they ... 8 A photon is an elementary particle. As much elementary and as much particle as the electron . A single elementary particle has a fixed mass and cannot emit another particle without violating energy conservation, because its mass is fixed. In the center of mass of a massive elementary particle, electron, there is no energy for an emission , for a ... 7 The binding energy of the electrons in a silver atom is far less than the rest energy of an electron, so there is no ambiguity about the number of electrons in a silver atom. That makes adding up the spins a straightforward business. By contrast, the combined mass of the two up and one down quarks in a proton is about 10MeV (it isn't precisely known) but ... 7 The extra term, in general$$\mathcal{L}=-\frac{1}{4}F_{\alpha\beta}F^{\alpha\beta}-\frac{1}{2 \xi}(\partial_{\rho}A^{\rho})^2 $$is called gauge fixing term. This term is needed in order to be able to quantize the field A_\mu. Without this extra term the photon propagator is ill defined$$D^{\mu\nu}={-i\over k^2+i0}\left(g^{\mu\nu}\,+\,(\xi-1){k^\mu ...

7

The Lagrangian provided is Maxwell's Lagrangian, supplemented by a gauge fixing term: $$\mathcal{L}=-\frac{1}{4}F_{\mu\nu}F^{\mu\nu} - \frac{1}{2}(\partial_\mu A^\mu)^2$$ The equations of motion are, $$\partial_\mu F^{\mu\nu} + \partial^\nu (\partial_\mu A^\mu) = \partial_\mu \partial^\mu A^\nu = 0$$ Instead of making a gauge fixing procedure a ...

7

The advantage of unitary gauge is that it completely removes unphysical fields, while adding additional degrees of freedom to the gauge bosons, which consequently become massive. This gauge works well for tree-level calculations, but complications arise when considering loops: The propagators of gauge fields and ghosts (which are needed to impose the ...

6

In our modern understanding, every electron is thought to be a localized excitation of the electron (or Dirac) (spinor) field $\Psi(x^\mu)$, while every photon is considered to be an excitation of the photon (vector) field $A^\nu(x^\mu)$, which is the quantum field-theoretic counterpart of the classical four-potential. Thus, the answer to your questions ...

6

This might not be quite the answer you are looking for, but one useful way to think about it is: the accelerating electron emits photons because nothing forbids it from doing so. By definition, because an electron has electric charge it is coupled to the electromagnetic field, and is able to produce excitations in this field which we can call photons. This ...

6

This comes from classical electrodynamics, there is no need to go to Standard model theory or quantum electrodynamics for this. The simple answer is that electric potentials, like electric fields, are just a way of characterizing the way charged particles interact with each other. So, charged objects create voltage analogous to the way that they create ...

5

Regardless of renormalizability, the term that you wrote down $(gA_\mu A^\mu \phi)$ does not describe photons because it is not gauge invariant. This would be a theory of a massless vector boson with three dynamical propagating degrees of freedom (two transverse and one longitudinal), which is inconsistent with Lorentz invariance and irrelevant to ...

5

It's a mixture of $c_\infty = c_0 = c$ and "the question doesn't make sense". So, first, how it does not make sense: What's the "speed" of a quantum object? It has, in general, no well-defined position, so $v = \frac{\mathrm{d}x}{\mathrm{d}t}$ is rather ill-defined. Instead, we should probably look at the mass of the photon, since all massless objects ...

5

Classical electromagnetic waves emerge from the underlying quantum electrodynamic description in a smooth and consistent manner. The quantum framework means that the classical waves are built out of photons, and the only time one has to worry about more detail than what Maxwell's equations provide is at the level of particle physics and wherever quantization ...

5

Anna V is wrong when she says Maxwell's equations are inconsistent with black body radiation. In quantum mechanics, even if you ignore radiation there is a charge density which you can calculate (in principle) from Schroedinger's Equation. In a warm body, this charge density is fluctuating by random thermal motion. If you track the time evolution of the ...

5

There are very strict limits on the mass of the photon already, so it would only affect our understanding of physics on the largest scales. The cosmologists would have some hard thinking to do, for instance. However, contrary to a comment, it would not affect relativity beyond requiring us to reconsider the usual name for $c$: not "the speed of light" but ...

5

Virtual particles are not real. A virtual particle is essentially defined by being associated to a propagator. It is, formally, nothing more than such a propagator. The idea of "virtual particle" doesn't even exist before you notice that you can draw pretty Feynman diagrams as a succinct representation of the way QFT amplitudes are calculated. This is ...

5

I cannot answer to all the questions but would like to stress something regarding what the Casimir effect tells us and what it doesn't. If you look at how it is derived for the usual EM interaction, an experimental verification of the standard Casimir effect tells us that: the EM field can have standing waves between two plates and outside them There ...

5

When drawing Feynman diagrams, it is important to fix the incoming and outgoing particles and their momenta. For the inexperienced, this is ideally done before drawing the rest of the diagram in order to avoid confusions like yours. So, let's assign each state some momentum: Let's give the electron in the upper left corner (4-)momentum $p_1$, lower left ...

5

There seems to be no empirical motivation to consider this possibility. But if we approach it as a pure "what if" anyway, it opens a big can of worms. (1) How do we even implement the idea in a principled way? We might take a given calculation in which the fine-structure constant is employed, and substitute a sampling of Gil's "very concentrated ...

4

Quantum electrodynamics is needed to describe Nature instead of classical electrodynamics because quantum phenomena are observed – and have been observed at least since 1900 – which prove that classical physics in general and classical electrodynamics in particular is incorrect as a description of Nature and a better theory is needed. The quantum phenomena ...

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