Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Is quantum field theory the return of the ether?

  1. Aug 2, 2011 #1

    My question is about why quantum fields are used.

    Are quantum fields just a reinvention of the ether? It seems like something superimposed on spacetime (from which theoretically spacetime should emerge in the case of gravity) from which particles can pop in and out of.

    How wrong is it to call quantum field theory a reinvention of the ether?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 2, 2011 #2
    no. quantum fields are manifestly relativistically covariant, since they belong to a certain representation of the Lorentz group by construction.
  4. Aug 2, 2011 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Quantum fields can be said to have a relativistic aether (the "vacuum state") - in the sense that light waves are excitations of the vacuum state. However the vacuum state is the same for all observers moving at constant velocity, and in this way it is different from the non-relativistic aether.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook