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Gauge Symmetry Breaking in Gauge Theories---In Search of Clarification

Friederich, Simon (2011) Gauge Symmetry Breaking in Gauge Theories---In Search of Clarification. [Preprint]

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The paper investigates the spontaneous breaking of gauge symmetries in gauge theories from a philosophical angle. Local gauge symmetry itself cannot break spontaneously in quantized gauge theories according to Elitzur's theorem---even though the notion of a spontaneously broken local gauge symmetry is widely employed in textbook expositions of the Higgs mechanism, the standard account of mass generation for the weak gauge bosons in the standard model. Nevertheless, gauge symmetry can be broken in gauge theories, namely, in the form of the breaking of remnant subgroups of the original local gauge group under which the theories typically remain invariant after gauge fixing. The paper discusses the relation between these instances of symmetry breaking and phase transitions and draws some more general conclusions for the philosophical interpretation of gauge symmetries and their breaking.

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Item Type: Preprint
Additional Information: Some improvements over previous version thanks to helpful comments.
Keywords: gauge theories; symmetry breaking; phase transitions; Higgs mechanism
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Field Theory
Specific Sciences > Physics > Symmetries/Invariances
Depositing User: Dr. Simon Friederich
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2011 12:43
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2011 12:43
Item ID: 8854

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