The Quantum Vacuum: A Scientific and Philosophical Concept, from Electrodynamics to String Theory and the Geometry of the Microscopic World

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A vacuum, classically understood, contains nothing. The quantum vacuum, on the other hand, is a seething cauldron of nothingness: particle pairs going in and out of existence continuously and rapidly and exerting influence over an enormous range of scales. Acclaimed mathematical physicist and natural philosopher Luciano Boi expounds the quantum vacuum, exploring the meaning of nothingness and its relationship with physical reality. Boi first provides a deep analysis of the interaction between geometry and physics...

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Baltimore, MD 2011 Hard cover Very Good. 232 p. 5 halftones, 40 line drawings. Intended for college/higher education audience.

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2011 Hardcover Good Item may show signs of shelf wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. Includes supplemental or companion materials if applicable. Access ... codes may or may not work. Connecting readers since 1972. Customer service is our top priority. Read more Show Less

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Overview

A vacuum, classically understood, contains nothing. The quantum vacuum, on the other hand, is a seething cauldron of nothingness: particle pairs going in and out of existence continuously and rapidly and exerting influence over an enormous range of scales. Acclaimed mathematical physicist and natural philosopher Luciano Boi expounds the quantum vacuum, exploring the meaning of nothingness and its relationship with physical reality. Boi first provides a deep analysis of the interaction between geometry and physics at the quantum level. He next describes the relationship between the microscopic and macroscopic structures of the world. In so doing, Boi sheds light on the very nature of the universe, stressing in an original and profound way the relationship between quantum geometry and the internal symmetries underlying the behavior of matter and the interactions of forces. Beyond the physics and mathematics of the quantum vacuum, Boi offers a deeply philosophical interpretation of the concept. Plato and Aristotle did not believe a vacuum was possible. How could nothing be something, they asked? Boi traces the evolution of the quantum vacuum from an abstract concept in ancient Greece to its fundamental role in quantum field theory and string theory in modern times. The quantum vacuum is a complex entity, one essential to understanding some of the most intriguing issues in twentieth-century physics, including cosmic singularity, dark matter and energy, and the existence of the Higgs boson particle. Boi explains with simple clarity the relevant theories and fundamental concepts of the quantum vacuum. Theoretical, mathematical, and particle physicists, as well as researchers and students of the history and philosophy of physics, will find in The Quantum Vacuum a stimulating and engaging primer on the topic.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

This book explores many current ideas about the vacuum, a central concept in modern physics... An interesting approach to collecting some of the most profound ideas scientists have developed about the physical world in modern times.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781421402475
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2011
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Luciano Boi is a professor of geometry and scientific theorization at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Centre de mathématiques, Paris.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Prologue 1

Chapter 1 Introduction: The Vacuum as a Scientific and Philosophical Concept 3

Chapter 2 The Role of Vacuum in Modern Physics 10

Chapter 3 The Quantum Vacuum in the Early Universe 27

Chapter 4 The Problem of the Vacuum and the Conceptual Conflict between General Relativity Theory and Quantum Mechanics 31

Chapter 5 Topology and Curvature as Sources of Vacuum Fields 37

Chapter 6 The Dirac "Full-of-Particles Sea" Idea and the Vacuum in Quantum Field Theory 59

Chapter 7 The Role of the Vacuum in Quantum Electrodynamics, the Casimir Effect, and Vacuum Polarization 69

Chapter 8 Hole Theory, Negative Energy Solutions, and Vacuum Fluctuations 73

Chapter 9 Further Theoretical Remarks on the Vacuum Fluctuations: Poincaré Conformal Invariance and Spontaneous Symmetry-Breaking Symmetry 78

Chapter 10 More Intuitive Remarks on the Casimir Effect and Force, and on Their Significance 87

Chapter 11 Dynamical Principles of Invariance and the Physical Interactions 92

Chapter 12 Quantum Electrodynamics and Gauge Theory 101

Chapter 13 Vacuum as the Source of Asymmetry 107

Chapter 14 Topological Quantum Field Theories and Gauge Theories: A Far-Reaching Interface between Geometry and Physics 117

Chapter 15 Remarks on Kaluza-Klein Theory and Supergravity 123

Chapter 16 Creation of Universes from Nothing 131

Chapter 17 String Landscape and Vacuum Energy: The Emergence of a Multidimensional World from Geometrical Possibilities 145

Chapter 18 Concluding Remarks 152

Appendixes

A The Difference between the Causality/Determinism of Classical Physics and that of Quantum Physics 157

B The Similarities between the "Quantum Vacuum" and Plato's "Chora" (Space) 159

C Remarks on the Quantum Effects in Supersymmetric Quantum Field Theories 161

D How "Fock Space" Can Help to Represent the Vacuum Fluctuations in Quantum Field Theory 165

E Is the Word "Vacuum" Suitable for What Is Happening in Modern Physics? 167

F Mathematical Concepts and Techniques 169

G Path Integral and Yang-Mills Connections 180

Notes 187

Bibliography 199

Index 215

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