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Interpreting Quantum Theories$
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Laura Ruetsche

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199535408

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199535408.001.0001

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Broken Symmetry and Physicists' QFT

Broken Symmetry and Physicists' QFT

(p.312) 14 Broken Symmetry and Physicists' QFT
Interpreting Quantum Theories

Laura Ruetsche

Oxford University Press

Chapter 12 argued that quantum statistical mechanics puts unitarily inequivalent representations to use in ways no rigid interpretation can make sense of. Two features of working QFTs which promise a quantum field theoretic realization of Chapter 12's argument are Goldstone bosons and the Higgs mechanism. This chapter explains why they're promising by presenting them as instance of broken symmetry. Then it tempers the promise by admitting that the working QFTs in which these features occur are less mathematically explicit than they need to be to persuasively realize the argument of Chapter 12. The chapter closes by extracting from this very circumstance a non-conclusive reason to lend the argument of Chapter 12 interpretive weight. The reason is that our best theories of physics are still under construction, and their successors could share with the models presented in Chapter 12 the features on which the argument of Chapter 12 hinged.

Keywords:   broken symmetry, quantum field theory, Goldstone boson, Higgs mechanism, electroweak theory, unitary inequivalence, universality, renormalization group theory

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