Stack Exchange Network

Stack Exchange network consists of 175 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.

Visit Stack Exchange

Questions tagged [quantum-field-theory]

Quantum Field Theory (QFT) is the theoretical framework describing the quantisation of classical fields which allows a Lorentz-invariant formulation of quantum mechanics. QFT is used both in high energy physics as well as condensed matter physics and closely related to statistical field theory. Use this tag for many-body quantum-mechanical problems and the theory of [tag:particle-physics]. Don’t combine with [tag:quantum-mechanics].

53
votes
10answers
11k views

Is the wave-particle duality a real duality?

I often hear about the wave-particle duality, and how particles exhibit properties of both particles and waves. However, I wonder, is this actually a duality? At the most fundamental level, we 'know' ...
47
votes
2answers
7k views

How do I construct the $SU(2)$ representation of the Lorentz Group using $SU(2)\times SU(2)\sim SO(3,1)$ ?

This question is based on problem II.3.1 in Anthony Zee's book Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell Show, by explicit calculation, that $(1/2,1/2)$ is the Lorentz Vector. I see that the ...
31
votes
4answers
10k views

Do virtual particles actually physically exist?

I have heard virtual particles pop in and out of existence all the time, most notable being the pairs that pop out beside black holes and while one gets pulled away. But wouldn't this actually violate ...
41
votes
8answers
6k views

What are the various physical mechanisms for energy transfer to the photon during blackbody emission?

By conservation of energy, the solid is left in a lower energy state following emission of a photon. Clearly absorption and emission balance at thermal equilibrium, however, thermodynamic equilibrium ...
67
votes
5answers
10k views

What is more fundamental, fields or particles?

My confusion about quantum theory is twofold: I lack an adequate understanding of how the mathematics of quantum theory is supposed to correspond to phenomena in the physical world I still have an ...
129
votes
5answers
16k views

Gauge symmetry is not a symmetry?

I have read before in one of Seiberg's articles something like, that gauge symmetry is not a symmetry but a redundancy in our description, by introducing fake degrees of freedom to facilitate ...
34
votes
2answers
11k views

How does the Higgs mechanism work?

I'm not a particle physicist, but I did manage to get through the Feynman lectures without getting too lost. Is there a way to explain how the Higgs field works, in a way that people like me might ...
24
votes
7answers
3k views

Are vacuum fluctuations really happening all the time?

In popular physics articles and even some physics classes I've been to, the vacuum of space is described as being constantly full of quantum fluctuations. Supposedly, all sorts of particle-...
84
votes
10answers
62k views

Is anti-matter matter going backwards in time?

Some sources describe antimatter as just like normal matter, but "going backwards in time". What does that really mean? Is that a good analogy in general, and can it be made mathematically precise? ...
37
votes
3answers
3k views

How general is the Lagrangian quantization approach to field theory?

It is an usual practice that any quantum field theory starts with a suitable Lagrangian density. It has been proved enormously successful. I understand, it automatically ensures valuable symmetries of ...
54
votes
6answers
11k views

Why isn't Higgs coupling considered a fifth fundamental force?

When I first learned about the four fundamental forces of nature, I assumed that they were just the only four kind of interactions there were. But after learning a little field theory, there are many ...
29
votes
4answers
1k views

Is the world $C^\infty$?

While it is quite common to use piecewise constant functions to describe reality, e.g. the optical properties of a layered system, or the Fermi–Dirac statistics at (the impossible to reach exactly) $T=...
18
votes
8answers
3k views

Why do physicists believe that particles are pointlike?

String theory gives physicists reason to believe that particles are 1-dimensional strings because the theory has a purpose - unifying gravity with the gauge theories. So why is it that it's popular ...
18
votes
4answers
3k views

Grassmann paradox weirdness

I'm running into an annoying problem I am unable to resolve, although a friend has given me some guidance as to how the resolution might come about. Hopefully someone on here knows the answer. It is ...
46
votes
9answers
36k views

What is a complete book for introductory quantum field theory?

There's a fairly standard two or three-semester curriculum for introductory quantum field theory, which covers topics such as: classical field theory background canonical quantization, path integrals ...
10
votes
1answer
4k views

Why/How is this Wick's theorem?

Let $\phi$ be a scalar field and then I see the following expression (1) for the square of the normal ordered version of $\phi^2(x)$. \begin{align} T(:\phi^2(x)::\phi^2(0):) &= 2 \langle 0|T(\...
24
votes
2answers
4k views

Virtual photon description of B and E fields

I continue to find it amazing that something as “bulky” and macroscopic as a static magnetic or electric field is actually a manifestation of virtual photons. So putting on your QFT spectacles, look ...
7
votes
1answer
3k views

Why path integral approach may suffer from operator ordering problem?

In Assa Auerbach's book (Ref. 1), he gave an argument saying that in the normal process of path integral, we lose information about ordering of operators by ignoring the discontinuous path. What did ...
46
votes
8answers
9k views

Can the photoelectric effect be explained without photons?

Lamb 1969 states, A misconception which most physicists acquire in their formative years is that the photoelectric effect requires the quantization of the electromagnetic field for its explanation. ...
45
votes
3answers
8k views

Why treat complex scalar field and its complex conjugate as two different fields?

I am new to QFT, so I may have some of the terminology incorrect. Many QFT books provide an example of deriving equations of motion for various free theories. One example is for a complex scalar ...
42
votes
9answers
22k views

What equation describes the wavefunction of a single photon?

The Schrödinger equation describes the quantum mechanics of a single massive non-relativistic particle. The Dirac equation governs a single massive relativistic spin-½ particle. The photon is a ...
18
votes
4answers
7k views

Do all massless particles (e.g. photon, graviton, gluon) necessarily have the same speed $c$?

I suppose there was a discussion already on speed-of-gravity-and-speed-of-light. But I silly wonder whether all the massless mediators of four fundamental forces, i.e. Graviton: $g_{\mu\nu}$ (...
14
votes
1answer
1k views

Schrödinger wavefunctional quantum-field eigenstates

The reason that I have this problem is that I'm trying to solve problem 14.4 of Schwartz's QFT book, which've confused me for a long time. The problem is to construct the eigenstates of a quantum ...
16
votes
1answer
5k views

Schrodinger equation from Klein-Gordon?

One can view QM as a 1+0 dimensional QFT, fields are only depending on time and so are only called operators, and I know a way to derive Schrodinger's equation from Klein-Gordon's one. Assuming a ...
10
votes
2answers
3k views

Why are anticommutators needed in quantization of Dirac fields?

Why is the anticommutator actually needed in the canonical quantization of free Dirac field?
46
votes
7answers
8k views

Rigor in quantum field theory

Quantum field theory is a broad subject and has the reputation of using methods which are mathematically desiring. For example working with and subtracting infinities or the use of path integrals, ...
44
votes
5answers
7k views

Do photons truly exist in a physical sense or are they just a useful concept like $i = \sqrt{-1}$? [closed]

Reading about photons I hear different explanations like "elementary particle", "probability cloud", "energy quanta" and so forth. Since probably no one has ever seen a photon (if "seen" it supposedly ...
64
votes
1answer
6k views

Classical and quantum anomalies

I have read about anomalies in different contexts and ways. I would like to read an explanation that unified all these statements or points of view: Anomalies are due to the fact that quantum field ...
37
votes
3answers
10k views

Are W & Z bosons virtual or not?

W and Z bosons are observed/discovered. But as force carrying bosons they should be virtual particles, unobservable? And also they require to have mass, but if they are virtual they may be off-shell, ...
51
votes
6answers
5k views

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 ...
42
votes
5answers
3k views

Why do many people say that virtual particles do not conserve energy?

I've seen this claim made all over the Internet. It's on Wikipedia. It's in John Baez's FAQ on virtual particles, it's in many popular books. I've even seen it mentioned offhand in academic papers. ...
21
votes
1answer
3k views

Diff(M) as a gauge group and local observables in theories with gravity

In a gauge theory like QED a gauge transformation transforms one mathematical representation of a physical system to another mathematical representation of the same system, where the two mathematical ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the Wilsonian definition of renormalizability?

In chapter 23.6, Schwartz's quantum field theory book defines renormalizability as follows, paraphrasing a bit for brevity: Consider a given subset $S$ of the operators and its complement $\bar{S}$....
25
votes
4answers
4k 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 \...
29
votes
5answers
2k views

Regularization of the Casimir effect

For starters, let me say that although the Casimir effect is standard textbook stuff, the only QFT textbook I have in reach is Weinberg and he doesn't discuss it. So the only source I currently have ...
15
votes
2answers
11k views

Virtual photons, what makes them virtual?

The wikipedia page "Force Carrier" says: The electromagnetic force can be described by the exchange of virtual photons. The virtual photon thing baffles me a little. I get that virtual particles ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

Time-ordering vs normal-ordering and the two-point function/propagator

I don't understand how to calculate this generalized two-point function or propagator, used in some advanced topics in quantum field theory, a normal ordered product (denoted between $::$) is ...
46
votes
4answers
12k views

A No-Nonsense Introduction to Quantum Field Theory

I found Sean Carroll's "A No Nonsense Introduction to General Relativity" (about page here. pdf here), a 24-page overview of the topic, very helpful for beginning study. It all got me over the hump ...
44
votes
6answers
11k views

Why not use the Lagrangian, instead of the Hamiltonian, in nonrelativistic QM?

Undergraduate classical mechanics introduces both Lagrangians and Hamiltonians, while undergrad quantum mechanics seems to only use the Hamiltonian. But particle physics, and more generally quantum ...
22
votes
2answers
4k views

Energy-Momentum Tensor in QFT vs. GR

What is the correspondence between the conserved canonical energy-momentum tensor, which is $$ T^{\mu\nu}_{can} := \sum_{i=1}^N\frac{\delta\mathcal{L}_{Matter}}{\delta(\partial_\mu f_i)}\partial^\nu ...
15
votes
1answer
6k views

Lagrangian of Schrodinger field

The usual Schrodinger Lagrangian is $$ \tag 1 i(\psi^{*}\partial_{t}\psi ) + \frac{1}{2m} \psi^{*}(\nabla^2)\psi, $$ which gives the correct equations of motion, with conjugate momentum for $\psi^{*}$ ...
17
votes
4answers
8k views

Lagrangian to Hamiltonian in Quantum Field Theory

While deriving Hamiltonian from Lagrangian density, we use the formula $$\mathcal{H} ~=~ \pi \dot{\phi} - \mathcal{L}.$$ But since we are considering space and time as parameters, why the formula $$\...
5
votes
1answer
4k views

Is the electromagnetic force responsible for contact forces? [duplicate]

It is commonly stated that there are four fundamental forces, or interactions, in nature. It is natural to consider which of those is responsible for the normal force we meet in elementary physics. ...
13
votes
5answers
2k views

What was missing in Dirac's argument to come up with the modern interpretation of the positron?

When Dirac found his equation for the electron $(-i\gamma^\mu\partial_\mu+m)\psi=0$ he famously discovered that it had negative energy solutions. In order to solve the problem of the stability of the ...
6
votes
1answer
521 views

Getting particles from fields: normalization issue or localization issue?

There seems to be something very strange about the relationship between quantum field theory and quantum mechanics. It is bothering me; perhaps somebody can help. I'll consider a free Klein-Gordon ...
18
votes
1answer
2k views

How do instantons cause vacuum decay?

From what I read about on instantons (Zee, QFT in a Nutshell, pg 309-310), an instanton is a vacuum solution that maps $S^3 \rightarrow S^3$ (the boundary of Euclideanized spacetime), which comes from ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

Virtual particles and physical laws

Recently, I was reading about Hawking Radiation in A Brief History of Time. It says that at no point can all the fields be zero and so there's nothing like empty space(quantum fluctuation etc.). Now, ...
30
votes
4answers
5k views
13
votes
1answer
1k views

Does magnetic monopole violate $U(1)$ gauge symmetry?

Does a magnetic monopole violate $U(1)$ gauge symmetry? In what sense and why? Insofar as I know, there are at least two types of magnetic monopoles. One is the Dirac monopole while the other is the ...
23
votes
2answers
9k views

Why on-shell vs. off-shell matters?

The definitions between on- and off-shell are given in Wikipedia. Why is it so important in QFT to distinguish these two notions ?