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Wigner's Theorem/Antiunitary Transformation

  1. Feb 21, 2012 #1
    So I'm reading Gottfried and Yan's Quantum Mechanics: Fundamentals. On page 284, They state Wigner's Theorem and explain the two cases. One transformation leads to no complex conjugation of the expansion coefficients (unitary) and the other leads to a complex conjugation of the expansion coefficients (antiunitary). Anyway, I'm confused when he states the following.

    Applying an antiunitary operator twice results in a unitary operation, since the expansion coefficients are conjugated twice. Therefore the antiunitary operators cannot be represented as a continuous group because for any such operation (call it A) there exists the square root of that operation (A_(1/2)), which when applied twice gives an A and thus any A in the continuous group must be unitary for self-consistency.

    The part I don't get:

    He then goes on to say "by the same argument, candidates for an antiunitary transformation must be such that A^2 reproduces the original description"

    I don't understand why it necessarily has to reproduce the original description. I only understand why it has to be a discrete transformation. Anyone care to shed some light?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 22, 2012 #2
    I think that Gottfried's reasoning is lacking precision, using hand-waving arguments, fuzzy. Therefore I would not take too seriously his conclusions. But, when taking square leads to the original description, life is certainly easier. That is probably the only reason.
  4. Feb 22, 2012 #3


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    Whatever he means, it is not correct. Google "Kramers degeneracy" or read master Wigner himself:http://www.digizeitschriften.de/dms/img/?PPN=GDZPPN002509032
    Also non-trivial representations of the group operations C P and T have been discussed.
  5. Feb 22, 2012 #4
    Thank you so much guys, I've been very confused about this.
  6. Feb 22, 2012 #5


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    I think a non-trivial but interesting example are magnetic symmetry groups on a lattice.
    Consider a regular lattice of magnetic moments pointing up and down alternantly. The inversion of the magnetic moment corresponds to time inversion (and obviously is anti-unitary) but is not a symmetry of the lattice. However a combination of a translation by the nearest moment distance (one unit) and time inversion is (and is anti-unitary). Repeating this operation is equal to a unitary transformation, namely the shift by two units which is certainly different from the identity.
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