Particles more fundamental than fields

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Main Question or Discussion Point

In this Nima Arkani-Hamed paper on page 5 I found the sentence:

These constraints are an artifact of using fields as auxiliary objects to describe the interactions of the more fundamental particles.

In Schwartz's QFT book I also get away with the impression that the Poincaré irreps (i.e. particles) are more fundamental and field representations are just secondary.

But this view seems to be contrary with most other (older) QFT books and notes that I came across, where particles are just excitations of the fundamental quantum fields.

My question: is there are "conceptual shift" taking place towards an understanding that particles are more fundamental than fields?
 

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  • #2
Vanadium 50
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This is not a well-defined question. Until there is an empirical way for two people to agree on the fundamentalness of something, it is not a scientific question and I predict that this thread, like the many that have come before it, will circle the philosophical drain until the Mentors decide to put it out of its misery.
 
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In Schwartz's QFT book I also get away with the impression that the Poincaré irreps (i.e. particles) are more fundamental and field representations are just secondary.
In "Poincaré irrep", representation is mathematical jargon, it means representation of a group. But what do you mean by "field representation"?
is there a "conceptual shift" taking place towards an understanding that particles are more fundamental than fields?
Particles only exist in perturbation theory, so I don't see how that could happen.
 
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In this Nima Arkani-Hamed paper on page 5 I found the sentence:

These constraints are an artifact of using fields as auxiliary objects to describe the interactions of the more fundamental particles.

In Schwartz's QFT book I also get away with the impression that the Poincaré irreps (i.e. particles) are more fundamental and field representations are just secondary.

But this view seems to be contrary with most other (older) QFT books and notes that I came across, where particles are just excitations of the fundamental quantum fields.

My question: is there are "conceptual shift" taking place towards an understanding that particles are more fundamental than fields?
I wouldn't say that Schwartz's QFT book promotes the idea that particles are more fundamental than fields. The opposite idea, that fields are more fundamental than particles, is still a mainstream. Yet the idea that particles could be more fundamental, pushed forward by Arkani-Hamed among others, is a legitimate idea worthwhile of further investigations.
 
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Particles only exist in perturbation theory, so I don't see how that could happen.
If you start from fields, then it's true that particles only exist in perturbation theory. But it is not logically necessary to start from fields. See e.g. the old-fashioned S-matrix theory where people tried to derive S-matrix (for particles) directly from analyticity and certain symmetries, without using field theory. The recent work by Arkani-Hamed and others seems to be something similar.
 
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George Jones
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In Schwartz's QFT book I also get away with the impression that the Poincaré irreps (i.e. particles) are more fundamental and field representations are just secondary.
I wouldn't say that Schwartz's QFT book promotes the idea that particles are more fundamental than fields.
I agree with @Demystifier.

@Lapidus: What makes you say that Poincaré irreps are only used to describe particles? For example, Weinberg did not title his books "Quantum Field Theory", he purposely titled them "The Quantum Field Theory of Fields", and Weinberg has an extensive discussion of Poincaré irreps.
 
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Watch for the coming 3-volume book (in November 2018)

E. Stefanovich, Elementary particle physics. Vol. 1: Quantum mechanics, (De Gruyter Stud. Math. Phys. Vol. 45. Berlin: De Gruyter), 2018.
E. Stefanovich, Elementary particle physics. Vol. 2: Quantum electrodynamics, (De Gruyter Stud. Math. Phys. Vol. 46. Berlin: De Gruyter), 2018.
E. Stefanovich, Elementary particle physics. Vol. 3: Relativistic quantum dynamics, (De Gruyter Stud. Math. Phys. Vol. 47. Berlin: De Gruyter), 2018.

It promotes the idea that particles are the primary ingredients, but quantum fields are secondary.

Eugene.
 

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