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36
votes
6answers
8k views

Mathematical explanation of the failure to quantize gravity naively

One often hears in popular explanations of the failure to find a "Grand Unified Theory" that "Gravity goes off to infinity, but cutting off the edges gives us wrong answers", and other similar ...
82
votes
25answers
18k views

A soft introduction to physics for mathematicians who don't know the first thing about physics

There have been similar questions on mathoverflow, but the answers always gave some advanced introduction to the mathematics of quantum field theory, or string theory and so forth. While those may be ...
76
votes
2answers
108k views

Perfectly centered break of a perfectly aligned pool ball rack

Imagine the beginning of a game of pool, you have 16 balls, 15 of them in a triangle <| and 1 of them being the cue ball off to the left of that triangle. Imagine that the rack (the 15 balls in a ...
83
votes
3answers
6k views

Has the Lie group E8 really been detected experimentally?

A few months ago there were several math talks about how the Lie group E8 had been detected in some physics experiment. I recently looked up the original paper where this was announced, "Quantum ...
24
votes
5answers
2k views

Is symplectic reduction interesting from a physical point of view?

Do you think that symplectic reduction (Marsden Weinstein reduction) is interesting from a physical point of view? If so, why? Does it give you some new physical insights? There are some possible ...
20
votes
5answers
3k views

Particle Physics and Representations of Groups

This question is asked from a point of complete ignorance of physics and the standard model. Every so often I hear that particles correspond to representations of certain Lie groups. For a person ...
14
votes
5answers
2k views

Can the equation of motion with friction be written as Euler-Lagrange equation, and does it have a quantum version?

My (non-expert) impression is that many physically important equations of motion can be obtained as Euler-Lagrange equations. For example in quantum fields theories and in quantum mechanics quantum ...
4
votes
1answer
900 views

Minimize Energy for Charge Distributions

I am considering [positive] charge distributions $\rho:M\rightarrow\mathbb{R}_+$ (nonnegative reals) with unit charge $\int_M\rho=1$ for convenience. Here $M$ is a nice-enough region, say a ...
4
votes
1answer
119 views

Generating Functional for the Dirac Field, equivalence of expressions

As with the Klein-Gordon field, we can alternatively derive the Feynman rules with the free Dirac theory by means of a generating functional. In analogy with the scalar field theory where $Z[J]$ is ...
4
votes
2answers
499 views

Analytic solution of a system of linear, hyperbolic, first order, partial differential equations

In a try to solve a physical problem, I've faced a system of first-order partial differential equations of the form ...