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Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking in Quantum Field Theories : A road to a realistic interpretation

Rivat, Sébastien (2012) Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking in Quantum Field Theories : A road to a realistic interpretation. [Preprint]

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    Abstract

    The present essay investigates physical and philosophical arguments for a realistic account of spontaneous symmetry breaking and of the Higgs mechanism. While philosophers of physics have largely acknowledged the heuristic value of these procedures, I go on to defending that any dismissal of a realistic counterpart is left undecided and that, against the odds, this counterpart is indeed supported by theoretical determinations. However, an epistemological support is not sufficient and all the more so since the Higgs mechanism is built on breaking local gauge symmetries usually reported as relating redundant descriptions. Even the link between the Higgs mechanism and spontaneous symmetry breaking is questionable. My principal argument is thus to encompass these issues in the one of effective field theories, only valid at a certain range of energy, which does not necessarily refute a realistic interpretation of the Higgs mechanism.


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    Item Type: Preprint
    Additional Information: This essay was submitted for the Masters level course, Part III, in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, Cambridge University, May 2012.
    Keywords: spontaneous symmetry breaking, Higgs mechanism, Goldstone theorem, gauge symmetry, effective field theories
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Field Theory
    General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
    Depositing User: Mr. Sébastien Rivat
    Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2012 09:12
    Last Modified: 28 Aug 2014 01:06
    Item ID: 9161
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/9161

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