Quantum field theories in classical spacetimes and particles

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 42 (2):98-106 (2011)
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Abstract

According to a Received View, relativistic quantum field theories (RQFTs) do not admit particle interpretations. This view requires that particles be localizable and countable, and that these characteristics be given mathematical expression in the forms of local and unique total number operators. Various results (the Reeh-Schlieder theorem, the Unruh Effect, Haag's theorem) then indicate that formulations of RQFTs do not support such operators. These results, however, do not hold for nonrelativistic QFTs. I argue that this is due to the absolute structure of the classical spacetimes associated with such theories. This suggests that the intuitions that underlie the Received View are non-relativistic. Thus, to the extent that such intuitions are inappropriate in the relativistic context, they should be abandoned when it comes to interpreting RQFTs.

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Jonathan Bain
New York University

Citations of this work

Particles in Quantum Field Theory.Doreen Fraser - 2022 - In Eleanor Knox & Alastair Wilson (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Physics. London, UK: Routledge. pp. 323-336.
The Entanglement Structure of Quantum Field Systems.Vincent Lam - 2013 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 27 (1):59 - 72.

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References found in this work

The fate of 'particles' in quantum field theories with interactions.Doreen Fraser - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 39 (4):841-859.
Are Rindler Quanta Real? Inequivalent Particle Concepts in Quantum Field Theory.Rob Clifton & Hans Halvorson - 2001 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (3):417-470.

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