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Semester Project concerning Feynman Diagrams

  1. Aug 31, 2012 #1
    Hi there everyone. I'll try to keep this short. I'm currently a sophomore at a local college. I'm in Honors Calculus 1 and part of the honors course requires a research project at the end of the semester. I'm studying to be an ER Doctor/Particle Physicist, yes I know this will take some time, I have set aside the 10-12 years it will take, I work full-time, school full-time and have a wife and daughter. I am determined to achieve that degree. There's alot more, ask if you want to know about the repoman trying to be a Physician-Scientist.

    Anyways, my idea for my project is to take two Feynman Diagrams, and explain the mathematics behind it. I figure in this way I can show off the Feynman diagrams, show the genius of his work and celebrate the man at the same time. Feynman is a personal hero of mine. Problem is I'm a calculus 1 student, regardless of how good I am at math, I simply don't have the upper level math required for some of these calculations. I understand what the diagrams represent how a particle enters a reaction and how it comes out, but there needs to be a Calculus element for my class.

    I'm looking for either suggestions or some resources to find out more. Everything I seem to find is talking about levels of Calculus that are way above my head at the moment. The only document I've found is from UC-Berkeley going through Taylor Series which has some information I can actually understand.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated

    PS: For the record I have opened communication with the Physics professors on campus for help as well and am in the process of teaching myself Feynman's work.

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 1, 2012 #2


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    I don't want to discourage you, but I guess Calculus 1 is unfortunately not enough to understand what's behind Feynman diagrams. For this you need quite advanced mathematical methods used in quantum field theory, including some Hilbert-space theory, the theory of distributions (generalized functions), and Fourier analysis.
  4. Sep 1, 2012 #3


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    You could try to read chapter 1 of Zee's "QFT in a nutshell", which is the most accesible introduction to the structure of Feynman diagrams, including simple analogous from ordinary calculus (Feynman diagrams come from functionals instead of functions).

    If that's out of reach for you, your project most probably is. Honestly, I think your background is not enough to say something sensible yet about Feynman-diagrams; one needs at least some exposure to more advanced stuff, including quantum mechanics. ,

    You could try to investigate the path-integral approach to quantum mechanics; for that you don't need any relativistic QM or field theory, and as such is more accesible.
  5. Sep 1, 2012 #4


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    Zee's book is not a good source at all. You don't learn how quantum field theory really works! I'd rather recommend Ryder.
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