Spontaneous symmetry breaking: Its meaning from a simple classical model

Abstract

This paper aims at answering the simple question `what is spontaneous symmetry breaking (SSB)?` by analyzing from a philosophical perspective a simple classical model which exhibits all the requisite properties of SSB. Related questions include: what does it mean to say that a symmetry is spontaneously broken? Is it broken without any cause, or is the symmetry not broken but merely hidden? Is the meta-principle, `no asymmetry in, no asymmetry out,` violated by SSB? And what is the role in this of random perturbations (or fluctuations)?

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2009-01-28

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Chuang Liu
University of Florida

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