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

Is this why relativity and quantum physics don't mix?

  1. Aug 27, 2010 #1
    In one of Feynmans messenger lectures he proved that relativity implies local conservation of energy using the lagrangian (energy can't jump from one place to another). In the atom of quantum theory the electron jumps around in various discrete orbits. This seems like a contradiction.

    Is this 'the' problem with unifying relativity and quantum theory? What other problems are there?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 27, 2010 #2
    I think it has something to do with "renormalization" which is used in Quantum Mechanics to make answers reasonable (basically), but when you try to "renormalize" a gravity meadiator (such as a Graviton) the equations fail.

    Also in places at the quantum scale, but with huge gravity (like in a black hole) the equations also give infinate answers and stupid results.
  4. Aug 27, 2010 #3
    No, all quantum therories are "relativistic" which means the same kind of Ponciare symmetry is designed in from the beginning.
  5. Aug 27, 2010 #4


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    No, it doesn't. There no electron "orbits" in the classical sense. Instead, there are probability distributions which have different shapes for each energy state, but which overlap each other significantly. See for example

  6. Aug 27, 2010 #5
    Oh okay so there are not orbits but energy levels, Schrodinger said:

    "... It reminds a physicist of quantum theory - no intermediate energies occurring between two neighbouring energy levels. ... The mutations are actually caused by a quantum jump in the gene molecule."

    and it is this idea of a jump between energy levels which I think contradicts the theorem Feynman wrote about the Lagrangian.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook