Quantum field theory vs particle physics

  1. Demystifier

    Demystifier 5,593
    Science Advisor

    On this forum, quantum field theory (QFT) is a part of this subforum (Quantum Physics), while particle physics is a subject of another forum. These two topics - QFT and particle physics - are clearly separated.

    On the other hand, most textbooks on QFT are also textbooks on particle physics, and vice versa. This common practice creates an impression that QFT and particle physics are intimately related topics that do not make much sense separately.

    My questions for you is:
    Do you think that QFT and particle physics should be taught separately, or together?

    My opinion is that they should be taught separately. Just as solid state physics is usually taught separately from nonrelativistic QM. (Not to mention that QFT can be applied in solid state physics as well.)
  2. jcsd
  3. ZapperZ

    ZapperZ 30,731
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    This gives the impression that QFT is only used in particle physics. That is certainly not true. QFT is widely used in condensed matter physics, nuclear physics, atomic/molecular physics, etc.

    QFT is a methodology. It is independent of particle physics.

  4. Oddly, my department don't seem to refer to QFT as a distinct and self-contained subject. This lot are very much into their contextual learning approach, where underlying theory is introduced as a tool for doing research in a specific field. Not that there is, to my knowledge, an undergraduate or even Masters level course in QFT. I'm taking Lagrangian Field Theory and Symmetry next academic year; presumably QFT builds on this but - obviously - is quantised.

    What bothers me is how little undergrads actually do and know. If I'd graduated this year I would never have used an STM, never taken a course in lasers, never done any field theory, never known anything about what makes the Standard Model work. As it happens I do a little more of this in my Masters year, but it still seems inadequate.
  5. Demystifier

    Demystifier 5,593
    Science Advisor

    That is exactly what my point is. :smile:
  6. yes they should probably be taught separately. QFT happens to be the most dominant and useful tool to explain particles, but it is also useful in other realms.
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