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No superluminal propagation for classical relativistic and relativistic quantum fields

Earman, John (2014) No superluminal propagation for classical relativistic and relativistic quantum fields. [Preprint]

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Abstract

A criterion is proposed to ensure that classical relativistic fields do not propagate superluminally. If this criterion does indeed serve as a sufficient condition for no superluminal propagation it follows that various other criteria found in the physics literature cannot serve as necessary conditions since they can fail although the proffered condition holds. The rejected criteria rely on energy conditions that are believed to hold for most classical fields used in actual applications. But these energy conditions are known to fail at small scales for quantum fields. It is argued that such a failure is not necessarily a cause for concern about superluminal propagation in the quantum regime since the proffered criterion of no superluminal propagation for classical fields has a natural analog for quantum fields and, further, this quantum analog condition provably holds for some quantum fields despite the violation of energy conditions. The apparatus developed here also offers a different approach to treating the Reichenbach-Salmon cases of "pseudo-causal processes" and helps to clarify the issue of whether relativity theory is consistent with superluminal propagation.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Earman, Johnjearman@pitt.edu
Keywords: relativity theory, causal propagation, causal processes vs. pseudo-causal processes, relativistic energy conditions
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Field Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Depositing User: John Earman
Date Deposited: 14 Aug 2014 15:46
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2014 15:46
Item ID: 10945
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Field Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
Date: 2014
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/10945

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