The Vacuum in Relativistic Quantum Field Theory

PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1994:77 - 87 (1994)
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Abstract

The status of the vacuum in relativistic quantum field theory is examined. A sharp distinction arises between the global vacuum and the local vacuum. The concept of local number density is critically assessed. The global vacuum state implies fluctuations for all local observables. Correlations between such fluctuations in space-like separated regions of space-time are discussed and the existence of correlations which are maximal in a certain sense is remarked on, independently of how far apart those regions may be. The analogy with the mirror-image correlations in the singlet state of two spin-1/2 particles is explained. The connection between these maximal correlations and the well-known violation of the Bell inequality in the vacuum state is discussed, together with the way in which the existence of these correlations might be exploited in developing a vacuum version of the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen argument. The recent relativistic formulation of the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen argument by Ghirardi and Grassi is critically assessed with particular reference to the vacuum case.

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Michael Redhead
Last affiliation: London School of Economics

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