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Baratin and Freidel: a spin foam model of ordinary particle physics

by john baez
Tags: baratin, foam, freidel, model, ordinary, particle, physics, spin
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garrett
#55
Jul5-06, 11:56 PM
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I just read that new paper.

As far as I can tell, it works out exactly as you would expect point particles to behave in MacDowell-Mansouri BeeF gravity. Judging from their introduction, they seem oddly excited about it though, so maybe I'm missing something. It could be the excitement stems from their description of these particles as field monopoles, but I'm not sure why that's so different than putting the point particle actions in by hand. Anyway, it's a decent treatment and I like the approach.
marcus
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Jul6-06, 12:32 AM
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Quote Quote by garrett
I just read that new paper...
I am glad you had a look at it.
In a recent post, Baez mentioned that Freidel has 3 papers in the works with Starodubtsev and one in the work with Baratin. even if all don't come to fruition I'm inclined to expect at least a couple more in this same line of investigation.

It seems to me that you are especially well prepared to understand and comment, not only on this one but on the others when they come out.

The conclusions section speaks of a "forthcoming paper" in which they do a perturbation expansion in alpha

and thru that, they say, address the question of the flat limit of gravity and particles. I will get the quote

==quote==
First, since the alpha parameter is small, we can consider a perturbation theory of gravity coupled to particle(s) being the perturbation theory in alpha. The distinguished feature of this theory would be that it is, contrary to earlier approaches, manifestly diffeomorphism-invariant, so its framework it is possible to talk about weak gravitational field in the conceptual framework of full general relativity. These investigations, both in the case of beta = 0 and beta not = 0 will be presented in the forthcoming paper. The fuller control over the small alpha sector will presumably make it possible to address the outstanding question of what is the flat space limit of the theory of gravity, coupled to point particles. It has been claimed that such a theory will be not the special relativity, but some form of doubly special relativity
==endquote==

If they can show that the flatspace limit is not usual Lorentz but is, instead, some DSR, this would probably open up some possibilities to TEST. It would seem to me like considerable progress just to get a good flatspace limit of one sort or another.
marcus
#57
Jul6-06, 12:58 AM
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I am mulling over this parameter alpha that they want to do the perturbation expansion in.
I think it came up in the earlier (Jan 2005?) Freidel Staro paper.
You see it on page 3 of this paper, equation 2.3

if alpha and beta were both zero then S would be a usual BF action, but alpha perturbs it and makes it deviate from the usual BF action. Am I wrong?

the nice thing is that we are now looking at a perturbation theory where we DO NOT HAVE A FIXED BACKGROUND GEOMETRY around which we perturb. I don't claim to have much grasp of this, but we seem to be contemplating the opportunity to "perturb around pure BeeF itself"

so they hold out the attractive notion of a background independent perturbation theory or I guess what they said was a "manifestly diffeomorphism invariant" perturbation theory. that was what they said in conclusions on page 15.

right now it looks to me as if they are proceeding with exactly what they promised in http://arxiv.org/hep-th/0501191 that they would do. rather than us getting new signals this time we are getting confirmation of progress along lines they said in january last year. Am I missing something?
garrett
#58
Jul6-06, 02:32 AM
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Yep, that all sounds right.

The [itex]\alpha[/itex] term is what makes BF into gravity. With [itex]\alpha[/itex] itself proportional to the gravitational constant. Rovelli wrote about this as well, in his propagator paper. And, urr, I do BF too -- although I came to it rather circuitously.

"BF, it's what's for dinner."
marcus
#59
Jul6-06, 02:54 PM
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Quote Quote by garrett
... And, urr, I do BF too -- although I came to it rather circuitously.
Yes! and I am looking for you to surf this BF wave!

there is much truth in the saying
"BF, it's what's for dinner." I may adopt it as a signature.
selfAdjoint
#60
Jul6-06, 04:50 PM
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Quote Quote by Marcus
there is much truth in the saying
"BF, it's what's for dinner." I may adopt it as a signature.
Although Prof. Baez once remarked that it should be "EF" which spoils the pun. He said the so-called B part of BF theory was not in fact like magnetism (which B traditionally expresses) but like electricity, E.
marcus
#61
Jul6-06, 04:57 PM
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Quote Quote by selfAdjoint
Although Prof. Baez once remarked that it should be "EF" which spoils the pun. He said the so-called B part of BF theory was not in fact like magnetism (which B traditionally expresses) but like electricity, E.
the equations look prettier with E and F instead of B and F
and the analogy is more correct, true, but still everybody says BF.
maybe we have to go with it.
selfAdjoint
#62
Jul6-06, 05:17 PM
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Quote Quote by marcus
the equations look prettier with E and F instead of B and F
and the analogy is more correct, true, but still everybody says BF.
maybe we have to go with it.
Yeah, I agee. And who would want to give up that great Sig line? Even Baez seems to have bit the bullet.
marcus
#63
Jul12-06, 12:50 AM
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Quote Quote by selfAdjoint
Yeah, I agee. And who would want to give up that great Sig line? Even Baez seems to have bit the bullet.
Garrett can have it back anytime he wants

On Thursday, two days hence, John Baez student Derek Wise will give a talk at Perimeter.

It is along the general lines Baez has been talking about but expecially about the papers of Baez, Wise, Crans and of Baez Perez.

I hope they put a video at the streamer site. here is the abstract:

Derek Wise
Exotic statistics and particle types in 3- and 4d BF theory
Thursday July 13, 2006, 1:30 PM
"Gravity in 2+1 dimensions has the remarkable property that momenta live most naturally not in Minkowski vector space but in the 3d Lorentz group SO(2,1) itself. Having group-valued momentum has interesting consequences for particles, including exotic statistics and a modified classification of elementary particle types. These results generalize immediately to 3d BF theory with arbitrary gauge group. Better yet, they generalize to 4d BF theory, where matter shows up as string-like defects. These 'strings' exhibit exotic statistics governed not by the usual braid group, but by its higher dimensional cousin: the 'loop braid group'. We discuss these statistics as well as the classification of elementary 'string types' in 4d BF theory."

http://perimeterinstitute.com/activi...&SeminarID=759
marcus
#64
Jul13-06, 07:27 PM
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I had the wrong post here earlier. Here is a question. if anyone wants to comment.

In the first Freidel Starodubtsev paper they cited two "in preparation" papers
one of them was something we know for sure has NOT appeared
[13]Freidel Starodubtsev "perturbation gravity via spin foams"
that would be the SPIN FOAM QUANTIZATION OF THE CLASSICAL WORK WE JUST SAW
so if and when that paper comes out it will be kind of major.

the other was
[6] Freidel Kowalski-Glikman Starodubtsev "Background Independent Perturbation Theory for Gravity Coupled to Particles: Classical Analysis"

Now my feeling is that Freidel has gotten cagey about saying "background independent" because that term is defined differently by string theorists and others and tends to provoke controversy. people feel threatened and start protesting that maybe string theory really IS "background independent" even though it might not be "manifestly" background independent, and then they go on to say "LQG" is not really background independent, and so on. The term irritates people---and has become associated with semantic conflict
So my suspicion is that the paper that JUST CAME OUT REALLY IS THIS PAPER but RETITLED in a kind of inconspicuous ivy-league coat-and-tie way.

the paper that just came out is titled
"PARTICLES AS WILSON LINES OF GRAVITATIONAL FIELD"
which is shocking if you think of it, but innocuous enough on the surface.
the number is
http://arxiv.org/gr-qc/0607014 (remember by Quatorze Juillet Bastille day)

So I guess the question is, what do you think? Do you also think that the promised paper
"Background Independent Perturbation Theory for Gravity Coupled to Particles: Classical Analysis"

is actually the new one we have in hand called "Particles as Wilson Lines of Gravitational Field" but renamed?

Notice if you look at "Particles as Wilson Lines" actually wilson lines is only a part of what they are doing and
very much of what they are doing could be accurately described as a classical analysis of background independent (in the LQG sense) gravity-and-matter perturbation theory.

and if so, any idea why they decided on the new name?

================
to repeat another point, that I think JB made, or various people have: to say "background independent perturbation theory" is a real kicker of a headline. Because perturbation theory is the customary predominant way to do fields and UP TILL THIS MOMENT all the perturbation field theory ever done has used a fixed BACKGROUND SPACETIME geometry. so when you hear that phrase you hear a slight breaking noise.
(which among other things could motive people to deny that the paper could possibly be on the right track, causing the author a lot of bother answering them). I can understand how one might want the breaking noise to be inaudible.
john baez
#65
Jul15-06, 08:53 AM
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Quote Quote by marcus

So I guess the question is, what do you think? Do you also think that the promised paper
"Background Independent Perturbation Theory for Gravity Coupled to Particles: Classical Analysis" is actually the new one we have in hand called "Particles as Wilson Lines of Gravitational Field" but renamed?
I don't know. I remember Laurent saying they weren't even sure how many papers they were writing on this subject: two or three. They've done a lot of work, obviously, and for a big project like this one needs to keep rethinking the best way to slice the work into papers.

The paper they wrote doesn't actually do any "perturbation theory", apart from writing the MacDowell-Mansouri Lagrangian as the BF Lagrangian plus two extra terms, and analysing what this means... which they'd already done in a previous paper. The big new thing is to introduce particle worldlines as "defects" - curves removed from spacetime - much as had already been done in 3d gravity. So, it makes sense for their title to emphasize this.

In fact, their title is a bit more dramatic than what I might have chosen, because they don't really study these particle worldlines in the context of MacDowell-Mansouri gravity, except for one equation right near the end. Mostly they study these particles in the context of plain old 4d BF theory.

This nicely complements my own study, with Crans, Wise and Perez, of strings coupled to 4d BF theory. In fact the particles and strings fit hand in glove: particles like the A field, while strings like the B field - because particles have 1-dimensional worldlines and the A field is a 1-form, and strings have 2-dimensional worldsheets and the B field is a 2-form. I explain this a bit more in the latest issue of This Week's Finds, week235.

Unfortunately, Crans, Wise, Perez and I studied strings coupled to 4d BF theory for a general gauge group but didn't work out the details for the gauge group Freidel uses, namely SO(4,1). We focused on SO(3,1). It should be easy to do the SO(4,1) case now, though since Freidel & Company have worked out a lot of the necessary stuff.

After a talk I gave, Freidel guessed that the strings may be related to gravitons... or replace them, somehow. It's a big mystery: a nice structure is emerging, but it's not clear what it means! This is what makes physics fun.
selfAdjoint
#66
Jul15-06, 12:01 PM
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Quote Quote by john baez
...This is what makes physics fun.
Are you now finding it as much fun as math again? I know you were fed up for a while.

It is surely a wonderful gift you have to be able to work back and forth in the two areas; not only are you able to spot unnobvious connections, but there always seems to be something in one field or the other that really floats your boat.
marcus
#67
Jul15-06, 12:10 PM
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I think it's all one thing, basically.
just the formalities of which department and which journal
but if you see a glint in the eye of the universe or a little
smile on the face of nature it probably doesnt matter much
whether it is one or the other
marcus
#68
Jul15-06, 12:22 PM
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Quote Quote by john baez
... I explain this a bit more in the latest issue of This Week's Finds, week235.
Great news! Glad you found time!

Unfortunately,...
UNFORTUNATELY? That's the way it's SUPPOSED to happen
general group case first, then specialize to SO(4,1)
couldnt be sweeter
certainly maximizes the pleasure and excitement for the sidelines observers like us anyway.
....Crans, Wise, Perez and I studied strings coupled to 4d BF theory for a general gauge group but didn't work out the details for the gauge group Freidel uses, namely SO(4,1). We focused on SO(3,1). It should be easy to do the SO(4,1) case now, though since Freidel & Company have worked out a lot of the necessary stuff.
...
hotdog

"After a talk I gave, Freidel guessed that the strings may be related to gravitons... or replace them, somehow. It's a big mystery: a nice structure is emerging, but it's not clear what it means! This is what makes physics fun."

Freidel: let's invent how spacetimematter works. My stuff can be the geometry and your stuff can be the gravitons that connect changes in the geometry, OK?


"but it's not clear what it means! This is what makes physics fun" at some point, this begins to sound like a memorable understatement

thanks for posting here, enjoy Shanghai, and don't forget to figure spacetime out for us
selfAdjoint
#69
Jul15-06, 12:28 PM
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Quote Quote by marcus
I think it's all one thing, basically.
just the formalities of which department and which journal
but if you see a glint in the eye of the universe or a little
smile on the face of nature it probably doesnt matter much
whether it is one or the other
Sub specie aeternitatis, of course, you're right. But how few people are capable of working creatively in both! And you see so much (mostly tacit) dismissal of the concerns and interests of each field in so many practitioners of the other.
Careful
#70
Jul15-06, 03:23 PM
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Quote Quote by selfAdjoint
Sub specie aeternitatis, of course, you're right. But how few people are capable of working creatively in both! And you see so much (mostly tacit) dismissal of the concerns and interests of each field in so many practitioners of the other.
Many smart people are creatively working both in mathematics and physics (see Ed Witten, Roger Penrose, Stephen Hawking, George Ellis, Yau, Paul Dirac, ... and many lesser Gods as well). When I read some threads here, there seem to be very strange opinions wandering around about ``the way physics is done''. Good physics inventions always *started* with a coherent intuitive picture of (a part of) nature suggested by experiment; a physicist has fun when he/she can find out a mathematical model incoorporating these intuitions and delivering the correct numbers. In some rare cases, he can get excited when some unexpected solutions come out which require *new* experiments to be done (or the inventor might even dismiss these as unphysical). History confirms this thesis over and over again - Einstein for example had the physical picture of GR already in his mind (at least) six years prior to writing down his field equations. His theory got experimental support by Eddington in 1919 and he was so surprised by the Schwarzschild solutions that he did not hesitate to refute them. Mathematicians on the other hand have fun exploring structures per se and in these days are not shy at all to sell some weak (possibly accidental) correspondences with some established theories as ``physics''. The fact that some physicists are interested in these merely expresses the lack of good ideas from their side. Once I heard from a mathematician that GR was the most beautiful theory one could imagine until mathematicians started formalising it - what distinguishes supreme physicists is their powerful intuition to recogize what to do (and what not), mathematical ability only serves as a very useful tool. A beautiful example of this is given by the mathematical genius Dirac (one of the very few to have done so much useful mathematical physics), who kept on insisting that QED was not a good physical theory and that its miracles could very well be accidental.

Now, when some camp does not appreciate the worries of the other very well; it is usually so that the latter is not presenting a somewhat clear coherent picture of nature at all.

Careful
selfAdjoint
#71
Jul15-06, 05:06 PM
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Quote Quote by careful
Many smart people are creatively working both in mathematics and physics (see Ed Witten, Roger Penrose, Stephen Hawking, George Ellis, Yau, Paul Dirac,
Umm, yes. Witten, Penrose, Hawking, are a world famous trio among hundreds of creative mathematicians and physicists. Yau is a mathematician whose work turned out to be significant to the physicists which has led him over; he certainly didn't prove Calabi's conjecture with string theory in mind. Elis I'm not familiar with. And Dirac, I believe, is Still Dead.
marcus
#72
Jul15-06, 06:16 PM
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Quote Quote by selfAdjoint
Ellis I'm not familiar with...
when he was quite a bit younger George Ellis co-authored a book with Stephen Hawking (The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time). He is a distinguished cosmologist among other things.

I am afraid it is off topic of me to say so, but what excites me about Ellis recent contribution is his essay on Philosophical Issues in Cosmology. It is comprehensive and lays the issues out very clearly. The philosophical issues in cosmology are substantial and interesting, not just abstract hot air (as might be the case in some other areas of philosophy.)

he is not as well known as the others. Careful could have tossed the name in knowing that he would please a few Ellis-fans like me.

http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0602280
Issues in the Philosophy of Cosmology
George F. R. Ellis
To appear in the Handbook in Philosophy of Physics, Ed J Butterfield and J Earman (Elsevier, 2006).

"After a survey of the present state of cosmological theory and observations, this article discusses a series of major themes underlying the relation of philosophy to cosmology. These are: A: The uniqueness of the universe; B: The large scale of the universe in space and time; C: The unbound energies in the early universe; D: Explaining the universe -- the question of origins; E: The universe as the background for existence; F: The explicit philosophical basis; G: The Anthropic question: fine tuning for life; H: The possible existence of multiverses; I: The natures of existence. Each of these themes is explored and related to a series of Theses that set out the major issues confronting cosmology in relation to philosophy."

(probably far more than anyone wants to know about Ellis )


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