Network Theoretic of the Fermionic Quantum State – Epistemological Rumination. Thought of the Day 150.0


In quantum physics, fundamental particles are believed to be of two types: fermions or bosons, depending on the value of their spin (an intrinsic ‘angular moment’ of the particle). Fermions have half-integer spin and cannot occupy a quantum state (a configuration with specified microscopic degrees of freedom, or quantum numbers) that is already occupied. In other words, at most one fermion at a time can occupy one quantum state. The resulting probability that a quantum state is occupied is known as the Fermi-Dirac statistics.

Now, if we want to convert this into a model with maximum entropy, where the real movement is defined topologically, then we require a reproduction of heterogeneity that is observed. The starting recourse is network theory with an ensemble of networks where each vertex i has the same degree ki as in the real network. This choice is justified by the fact that, being an entirely local topological property, the degree is expected to be directly affected by some intrinsic (non-topological) property of vertices. The caveat is that the real shouldn’t be compared with the randomized, which could otherwise lead to interpreting the observed as ‘unavoidable’ topological constraints, in the sense that the violation of the observed values would lead to an ‘impossible’, or at least very unrealistic values.

The resulting model is known as the Configuration Model, and is defined as a maximum-entropy ensemble of graphs with given degree sequence. The degree sequence, which is the constraint defining the model, is nothing but the ordered vector k of degrees of all vertices (where the ith component ki is the degree of vertex i). The ordering preserves the ‘identity’ of vertices: in the resulting network ensemble, the expected degree ⟨ki⟩ of each vertex i is the same as the empirical value ki for that vertex. In the Configuration Model, the graph probability is given by

P(A) = ∏i<jqij(aij) =  ∏i<jpijaij (1 – pij)1-aij —– (1)

where qij(a) = pija (1 – pij)1-a is the probability that particular entry of the adjacency matrix A takes the value aij = a, which is a Bernoulli process with different pairs of vertices characterized by different connection probabilities pij. A Bernoulli trial (or Bernoulli process) is the simplest random event, i.e. one characterized by only two possible outcomes. One of the two outcomes is referred to as the ‘success’ and is assigned a probability p. The other outcome is referred to as the ‘failure’, and is assigned the complementary probability 1 − p. These probabilities read

⟨aij⟩ = pij = (xixj)/(1 + xixj) —– (2)

where xi is the Lagrange multiplier obtained by ensuring that the expected degree of the corresponding vertex i equals its observed value: ⟨ki⟩ = ki ∀ i. As always happens in maximum-entropy ensembles, the probabilistic nature of configurations implies that the constraints are valid only on average (the angular brackets indicate an average over the ensemble of realizable networks). Also note that pij is a monotonically increasing function of xi and xj. This implies that ⟨ki⟩ is a monotonically increasing function of xi. An important consequence is that two variables i and j with the same degree ki = kj must have the same value xi = xj.


(2) provides an interesting connection with quantum physics, and in particular the statistical mechanics of fermions. The ‘selection rules’ of fermions dictate that only one particle at a time can occupy a single-particle state, exactly as each pair of vertices in binary networks can be either connected or disconnected. In this analogy, every pair i, j of vertices is a ‘quantum state’ identified by the ‘quantum numbers’ i and j. So each link of a binary network is like a fermion that can be in one of the available states, provided that no two objects are in the same state. (2) indicates the expected number of particles/links in the state specified by i and j. With no surprise, it has the same form of the so-called Fermi-Dirac statistics describing the expected number of fermions in a given quantum state. The probabilistic nature of links allows also for the presence of empty states, whose occurrence is now regulated by the probability coefficients (1 − pij). The Configuration Model allows the whole degree sequence of the observed network to be preserved (on average), while randomizing other (unconstrained) network properties. now, when one compares the higher-order (unconstrained) observed topological properties with their expected values calculated over the maximum-entropy ensemble, it should be indicative of the fact that the degree of sequence is informative in explaining the rest of the topology, which is a consequent via probabilities in (2). Colliding these into a scatter plot, the agreement between model and observations can be simply assessed as follows: the less scattered the cloud of points around the identity function, the better the agreement between model and reality. In principle, a broadly scattered cloud around the identity function would indicate the little effectiveness of the chosen constraints in reproducing the unconstrained properties, signaling the presence of genuine higher-order patterns of self-organization, not simply explainable in terms of the degree sequence alone. Thus, the ‘fermionic’ character of the binary model is the mere result of the restriction that no two binary links can be placed between any two vertices, leading to a mathematical result which is formally equivalent to the one of quantum statistics.

Gauge Fixity Towards Hyperbolicity: General Theory of Relativity and Superpotentials. Part 1.


Gravitational field is described by a pseudo-Riemannian metric g (with Lorentzian signature (1, m-1)) over the spacetime M of dimension dim(M) = m; in standard General Relativity, m = 4. The configuration bundle is thence the bundle of Lorentzian metrics over M, denoted by Lor(M) . The Lagrangian is second order and it is usually chosen to be the so-called Hilbert Lagrangian:

LH: J2Lor(m) → ∧om(M)

LH: LH(gαβ, Rαβ)ds = 1/2κ (R – 2∧)√g ds —– (1)


R = gαβ Rαβ denotes the scalar curvature, √g the square root of the absolute value of the metric determinant and ∧ is a real constant (called the cosmological constant). The coupling constant 1/2κ which is completely irrelevant until the gravitational field is not coupled to some other field, depends on conventions; in natural units, i.e. c = 1, h = 1, G = 1, dimension 4 and signature ( + , – , – , – ) one has κ = – 8π.

Field equations are the well known Einstein equations with cosmological constant

Rαβ – 1/2 Rgαβ = -∧gαβ —— (2)

Lagrangian momenta is defined by:

pαβ = ∂LH/∂gαβ = 1/2κ (Rαβ – 1/2(R – 2∧)gαβ)√g

Pαβ = ∂LH/∂Rαβ = 1/2κ gαβ√g —– (3)

Thus the covariance identity is the following:

dα(LHξα) = pαβ£ξgαβ + Pαβ£ξRαβ —– (4)

or equivalently,

α(LHξα) = pαβ£ξgαβ + PαβεξΓεαβ – δεβ£ξΓλαλ) —– (5)

where ∇ε denotes the covariant derivative with respect to the Levi-Civita connection of g. Thence we have a weak conservation law for the Hilbert Lagrangian

Div ε(LH, ξ) = W(LH, ξ) —– (6)

Conserved currents and work forms have respectively the following expressions:

ε(LH, ξ) = [Pαβ£ξΓεαβ – Pαε£ξΓλαλ – LHξε]dsε = √g/2κ(gαβgεσ – gσβgεα) ∇α£ξgβσdsε – √g/2κξεRdsε = √g/2κ[(3/2Rαλ – (R – 2∧)δαλλ + (gβγδαλ – gα(γδβ)λβγξλ]dsα —– (7)

W(LH, ξ) = √g/κ(Rαβ – 1/2(R – 2∧)gαβ)∇(αξβ)ds —– (8)

As any other natural theory, General Relativity allows superpotentials. In fact, the current can be recast into the form:

ε(LH, ξ) = ε'(LH, ξ) + Div U(LH, ξ) —– (9)

where we set

ε'(LH, ξ) = √g/κ(Rαβ – 1/2(R – 2∧)δαββ)dsα

U(LH, ξ) = 1/2κ ∇[βξα] √gdsαβ —– (10)

The superpotential (10) generalizes to an arbitrary vector field ξ, the well known Komar superpotential which is originally derived for timelike Killing vectors. Whenever spacetime is assumed to be asymptotically fiat, then the superpotential of Komar is known to produce upon integration at spatial infinity ∞ the correct value for angular momentum (e.g. for Kerr-Newman solutions) but just one half of the expected value of the mass. The classical prescriptions are in fact:

m = 2∫ U(LH, ∂t, g)

J = ∫ U(LH, ∂φ, g) —– (11)

For an asymptotically flat solution (e.g. the Kerr-Newman black hole solution) m coincides with the so-called ADM mass and J is the so-called (ADM) angular momentum. For the Kerr-Newman solution in polar coordinates (t, r, θ, φ) the vector fields ∂t and ∂φ are the Killing vectors which generate stationarity and axial symmetry, respectively. Thence, according to this prescription, U(LH, ∂φ) is the superpotential for J while 2U(LH, ∂t) is the superpotential for m. This is known as the anomalous factor problem for the Komar potential. To obtain the expected values for all conserved quantities from the same superpotential, one has to correct the superpotential (10) by some ad hoc additional boundary term. Equivalently and alternatively, one can deduce a corrected superpotential as the canonical superpotential for a corrected Lagrangian, which is in fact the first order Lagrangian for standard General Relativity. This can be done covariantly, provided that one introduces an extra connection Γ’αβμ. The need of a reference connection Γ’ should be also motivated by physical considerations, according to which the conserved quantities have no absolute meaning but they are intrinsically relative to an arbitrarily fixed vacuum level. The simplest choice consists, in fact, in fixing a background metric g (not necessarily of the correct Lorentzian signature) and assuming Γ’ to be the Levi-Civita connection of g. This is rather similar to the gauge fixing à la Hawking which allows to show that Einstein equations form in fact an essentially hyperbolic PDE system. Nothing prevents, however, from taking Γ’ to be any (in principle torsionless) connection on spacetime; also this corresponds to a gauge fixing towards hyperbolicity.

Now, using the term background for a field which enters a field theory in the same way as the metric enters Yang-Mills theory, we see that the background has to be fixed once for all and thence preserved, e.g. by symmetries and deformations. A background has no field equations since deformations fix it; it eventually destroys the naturality of a theory, since fixing the background results in allowing a smaller group of symmetries G ⊂ Diff(M). Accordingly, in truly natural field theories one should not consider background fields either if they are endowed with a physical meaning (as the metric in Yang-Mills theory does) or if they are not.

On the contrary we shall use the expression reference or reference background to denote an extra dynamical field which is not endowed with a direct physical meaning. As long as variational calculus is concerned, reference backgrounds behave in exactly the same way as other dynamical fields do. They obey field equations and they can be dragged along deformations and symmetries. It is important to stress that such a behavior has nothing to do with a direct physical meaning: even if a reference background obeys field equations this does not mean that it is observable, i.e. it can be measured in a laboratory. Of course, not any dynamical field can be treated as a reference background in the above sense. The Lagrangian has in fact to depend on reference backgrounds in a quite peculiar way, so that a reference background cannot interact with any other physical field, otherwise its effect would be observable in a laboratory….

Killing Fields

Let κa be a smooth field on our background spacetime (M, gab). κa is said to be a Killing field if its associated local flow maps Γs are all isometries or, equivalently, if £κ gab = 0. The latter condition can also be expressed as ∇(aκb) = 0.

Any number of standard symmetry conditions—local versions of them, at least can be cast as claims about the existence of Killing fields. Local, because killing fields need not be complete, and their associated flow maps need not be defined globally.

(M, gab) is stationary if it has a Killing field that is everywhere timelike.

(M, gab) is static if it has a Killing field that is everywhere timelike and locally hypersurface orthogonal.

(M, gab) is homogeneous if its Killing fields, at every point of M, span the tangent space.

In a stationary spacetime there is, at least locally, a “timelike flow” that preserves all spacetime distances. But the flow can exhibit rotation. Think of a whirlpool. It is the latter possibility that is ruled out when one passes to a static spacetime. For example, Gödel spacetime, is stationary but not static.

Let κa be a Killing field in an arbitrary spacetime (M, gab) (not necessarily Minkowski spacetime), and let γ : I → M be a smooth, future-directed, timelike curve, with unit tangent field ξa. We take its image to represent the worldline of a point particle with mass m > 0. Consider the quantity J = (Paκa), where Pa = mξa is the four-momentum of the particle. It certainly need not be constant on γ[I]. But it will be if γ is a geodesic. For in that case, ξnnξa = 0 and hence

ξnnJ = m(κa ξnnξa + ξnξanκa) = mξnξa ∇(nκa) = 0

Thus, J is constant along the worldlines of free particles of positive mass. We refer to J as the conserved quantity associated with κa. If κa is timelike, we call J the energy of the particle (associated with κa). If it is spacelike, and if its associated flow maps resemble translations, we call J the linear momentum of the particle (associated with κa). Finally, if κa is spacelike, and if its associated flow maps resemble rotations, then we call J the angular momentum of the particle (associated with κa).

It is useful to keep in mind a certain picture that helps one “see” why the angular momentum of free particles (to take that example) is conserved. It involves an analogue of angular momentum in Euclidean plane geometry. Figure below shows a rotational Killing field κa in the Euclidean plane, the image of a geodesic (i.e., a line) L, and the tangent field ξa to the geodesic. Consider the quantity J = ξaκa, i.e., the inner product of ξa with κa – along L, and we can better visualize the assertion.


Figure: κa is a rotational Killing field. (It is everywhere orthogonal to a circle radius, and is proportional to it in length.) ξa is a tangent vector field of constant length on the line L. The inner product between them is constant. (Equivalently, the length of the projection of κa onto the line is constant.)

Let us temporarily drop indices and write κ·ξ as one would in ordinary Euclidean vector calculus (rather than ξaκa). Let p be the point on L that is closest to the center point where κ vanishes. At that point, κ is parallel to ξ. As one moves away from p along L, in either direction, the length ∥κ∥ of κ grows, but the angle ∠(κ,ξ) between the vectors increases as well. It should seem at least plausible from the picture that the length of the projection of κ onto the line is constant and, hence, that the inner product κ·ξ = cos(∠(κ , ξ )) ∥κ ∥ ∥ξ ∥ is constant.

That is how to think about the conservation of angular momentum for free particles in relativity theory. It does not matter that in the latter context we are dealing with a Lorentzian metric and allowing for curvature. The claim is still that a certain inner product of vector fields remains constant along a geodesic, and we can still think of that constancy as arising from a compensatory balance of two factors.

Let us now turn to the second type of conserved quantity, the one that is an attribute of extended bodies. Let κa be an arbitrary Killing field, and let Tab be the energy-momentum field associated with some matter field. Assume it satisfies the conservation condition (∇aTab = 0). Then (Tabκb) is divergence free:

a(Tabκb) = κbaTab + Tabaκb = Tab∇(aκb) = 0

(The second equality follows from the conservation condition and the symmetry of Tab; the third follows from the fact that κa is a Killing field.) It is natural, then, to apply Stokes’s theorem to the vector field (Tabκb). Consider a bounded system with aggregate energy-momentum field Tab in an otherwise empty universe. Then there exists a (possibly huge) timelike world tube such that Tab vanishes outside the tube (and vanishes on its boundary).

Let S1 and S2 be (non-intersecting) spacelike hypersurfaces that cut the tube as in the figure below, and let N be the segment of the tube falling between them (with boundaries included).


Figure: The integrated energy (relative to a background timelike Killing field) over the intersection of the world tube with a spacelike hypersurface is independent of the choice of hypersurface.

By Stokes’s theorem,

S2(Tabκb)dSa – ∫S1(Tabκb)dSa = ∫S2∩∂N(Tabκb)dSa – ∫S1∩∂N(Tabκb)dSa

= ∫∂N(Tabκb)dSa = ∫Na(Tabκb)dV = 0

Thus, the integral ∫S(Tabκb)dSa is independent of the choice of spacelike hypersurface S intersecting the world tube, and is, in this sense, a conserved quantity (construed as an attribute of the system confined to the tube). An “early” intersection yields the same value as a “late” one. Again, the character of the background Killing field κa determines our description of the conserved quantity in question. If κa is timelike, we take ∫S(Tabκb)dSa to be the aggregate energy of the system (associated with κa). And so forth.

Black Holes. Thought of the Day 23.0


The formation of black holes can be understood, at least partially, within the context of general relativity. According to general relativity the gravitational collapse leads to a spacetime singularity. But this spacetime singularity can not be adequately described within general relativity, because the equivalence principle of general relativity is not valid for spacetime singularities; therefore, general relativity does not give a complete description of black holes. The same problem exists with regard to the postulated initial singularity of the expanding cosmos. In these cases, quantum mechanics and quantum field theory also reach their limit; they are not applicable for highly curved spacetimes. For a certain curving parameter (the famous Planck scale), gravity has the same strength as the other interactions; then it is not possible to ignore gravity in the context of a quantum field theoretical description. So, there exists no theory which would be able to describe gravitational collapses or which could explain, why (although they are predicted by general relativity) they don’t happen, or why there is no spacetime singularity. And the real problems start, if one brings general relativity and quantum field theory together to describe black holes. Then it comes to rather strange forms of contradictions, and the mutual conceptual incompatibility of general relativity and quantum field theory becomes very clear:

Black holes are according to general relativity surrounded by an event horizon. Material objects and radiation can enter the black hole, but nothing inside its event horizon can leave this region, because the gravitational pull is strong enough to hold back even radiation; the escape velocity is greater than the speed of light. Not even photons can leave a black hole. Black holes have a mass; in the case of the Schwarzschild metrics, they have exclusively a mass. In the case of the Reissner-Nordström metrics, they have a mass and an electric charge; in case of the Kerr metrics, they have a mass and an angular momentum; and in case of the Kerr-Newman metrics, they have mass, electric charge and angular momentum. These are, according to the no-hair theorem, all the characteristics a black hole has at its disposal. Let’s restrict the argument in the following to the Reissner-Nordström metrics in which a black hole has only mass and electric charge. In the classical picture, the electric charge of a black hole becomes noticeable in form of a force exerted on an electrically charged probe outside its event horizon. In the quantum field theoretical picture, interactions are the result of the exchange of virtual interaction bosons, in case of an electric charge: virtual photons. But how can photons be exchanged between an electrically charged black hole and an electrically charged probe outside its event horizon, if no photon can leave a black hole – which can be considered a definition of a black hole? One could think, that virtual photons, mediating electrical interaction, are possibly able (in contrast to real photons, representing radiation) to leave the black hole. But why? There is no good reason and no good answer for that within our present theoretical framework. The same problem exists for the gravitational interaction, for the gravitational pull of the black hole exerted on massive objects outside its event horizon, if the gravitational force is understood as an exchange of gravitons between massive objects, as the quantum field theoretical picture in its extrapolation to gravity suggests. How could (virtual) gravitons leave a black hole at all?

There are three possible scenarios resulting from the incompatibility of our assumptions about the characteristics of a black hole, based on general relativity, and on the picture quantum field theory draws with regard to interactions:

(i) Black holes don’t exist in nature. They are a theoretical artifact, demonstrating the asymptotic inadequacy of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Only a quantum theory of gravity will explain where the general relativistic predictions fail, and why.

(ii) Black holes exist, as predicted by general relativity, and they have a mass and, in some cases, an electric charge, both leading to physical effects outside the event horizon. Then, we would have to explain, how these effects are realized physically. The quantum field theoretical picture of interactions is either fundamentally wrong, or we would have to explain, why virtual photons behave completely different, with regard to black holes, from real radiation photons. Or the features of a black hole – mass, electric charge and angular momentum – would be features imprinted during its formation onto the spacetime surrounding the black hole or onto its event horizon. Then, interactions between a black hole and its environment would rather be interactions between the environment and the event horizon or even interactions within the environmental spacetime.

(iii) Black holes exist as the product of gravitational collapses, but they do not exert any effects on their environment. This is the craziest of all scenarios. For this scenario, general relativity would have to be fundamentally wrong. In contrast to the picture given by general relativity, black holes would have no physically effective features at all: no mass, no electric charge, no angular momentum, nothing. And after the formation of a black hole, there would be no spacetime curvature, because there remains no mass. (Or, the spacetime curvature has to result from other effects.) The mass and the electric charge of objects falling (casually) into a black hole would be irretrievably lost. They would simply disappear from the universe, when they pass the event horizon. Black holes would not exert any forces on massive or electrically charged objects in their environment. They would not pull any massive objects into their event horizon and increase thereby their mass. Moreover, their event horizon would mark a region causally disconnected with our universe: a region outside of our universe. Everything falling casually into the black hole, or thrown intentionally into this region, would disappear from the universe.

Comment on Purely Random Correlations of the Matrix, or Studying Noise in Neural Networks


In the presence of two-body interactions the many-body Hamiltonian matrix elements vJα,α′ of good total angular momentum J in the shell-model basis |α⟩ generated by the mean field, can be expressed as follows:

vJα,α′ = ∑J’ii’ cJαα’J’ii’ gJ’ii’ —– (4)

The summation runs over all combinations of the two-particle states |i⟩ coupled to the angular momentum J′ and connected by the two-body interaction g. The analogy of this structure to the one schematically captured by the eq. (2) is evident. gJ’ii’ denote here the radial parts of the corresponding two-body matrix elements while cJαα’J’ii’ globally represent elements of the angular momentum recoupling geometry. gJ’ii’ are drawn from a Gaussian distribution while the geometry expressed by cJαα’J’ii’ enters explicitly. This originates from the fact that a quasi-random coupling of individual spins results in the so-called geometric chaoticity and thus cJαα’ coefficients are also Gaussian distributed. In this case, these two (gJ’ii’ and c) essentially random ingredients lead however to an order of magnitude larger separation of the ground state from the remaining states as compared to a pure Random Matrix Theory (RMT) limit. Due to more severe selection rules the effect of geometric chaoticity does not apply for J = 0. Consistently, the ground state energy gaps measured relative to the average level spacing characteristic for a given J is larger for J > 0 than for J = 0, and also J > 0 ground states are more orderly than those for J = 0, as it can be quantified in terms of the information entropy.

Interestingly, such reductions of dimensionality of the Hamiltonian matrix can also be seen locally in explicit calculations with realistic (non-random) nuclear interactions. A collective state, the one which turns out coherent with some operator representing physical external field, is always surrounded by a reduced density of states, i.e., it repells the other states. In all those cases, the global fluctuation characteristics remain however largely consistent with the corresponding version of the random matrix ensemble.

Recently, a broad arena of applicability of the random matrix theory opens in connection with the most complex systems known to exist in the universe. With no doubt, the most complex is the human’s brain and those phenomena that result from its activity. From the physics point of view the financial world, reflecting such an activity, is of particular interest because its characteristics are quantified directly in terms of numbers and a huge amount of electronically stored financial data is readily available. An access to a single brain activity is also possible by detecting the electric or magnetic fields generated by the neuronal currents. With the present day techniques of electro- or magnetoencephalography, in this way it is possible to generate the time series which resolve neuronal activity down to the scale of 1 ms.

One may debate over what is more complex, the human brain or the financial world, and there is no unique answer. It seems however to us that it is the financial world that is even more complex. After all, it involves the activity of many human brains and it seems even less predictable due to more frequent changes between different modes of action. Noise is of course owerwhelming in either of these systems, as it can be inferred from the structure of eigen-spectra of the correlation matrices taken across different space areas at the same time, or across different time intervals. There however always exist several well identifiable deviations, which, with help of reference to the universal characteristics of the random matrix theory, and with the methodology briefly reviewed above, can be classified as real correlations or collectivity. An easily identifiable gap between the corresponding eigenvalues of the correlation matrix and the bulk of its eigenspectrum plays the central role in this connection. The brain when responding to the sensory stimulations develops larger gaps than the brain at rest. The correlation matrix formalism in its most general asymmetric form allows to study also the time-delayed correlations, like the ones between the oposite hemispheres. The time-delay reflecting the maximum of correlation (time needed for an information to be transmitted between the different sensory areas in the brain is also associated with appearance of one significantly larger eigenvalue. Similar effects appear to govern formation of the heteropolymeric biomolecules. The ones that nature makes use of are separated by an energy gap from the purely random sequences.


Quantum Numbers as Representations of Gauge Groups


As emphasized by Klein and Weyl, a group is a collection of operations leaving a certain “object” unchanged. This amounts to classifying the symmetries of the object. When the “object” in question is the laws of Physics in a space-time with negligible gravitation-induced curvature, the symmetries can be classified as follows: (i) No point in four- dimensional space-time is privileged, hence one can shift or translate the origin of space-time arbitrarily in four directions. Noether’s theorem then implies there are four associated conserved quantities, namely the three components of space momentum and the energy. These four quantities naturally constitute the components of a 4-vector Pμ, μ = 0, 1, 2, 3. (ii) No direction is special in space; leading to three conserved quantities Ji, i = 1, 2, 3. (iii) There is no special inertial frame; the same laws of Physics hold in inertial frames moving with constant speed in any one of the three independent directions. What is generally known as Noether’s Theorem states that if the Lagrangian function for a physical system is not affected by a continuous change (transformation) in the coordinate system used to describe it, then there will be a corresponding conservation law; i.e. there is a quantity that is constant. For example, if the Lagrangian is independent of the location of the origin then the system will preserve (or conserve) linear momentum. If it is independent of the base time then energy is conserved. If it is independent of the angle of measurement then angular momentum is conserved.

As we suggested above, it is possible to get a non-mathematical insight into Noether’s theorem relating symmetries to conserved quantities. Consider a single particle moving in a completely homogeneous space. It cannot come to a stop or change its velocity because this would have to happen at some particular point, but all points being equal, it is impossible to choose one. Hence the particle has no choice but to move at constant velocity or, in other words, to conserve its linear momentum, which was anciently called “impetus”. It is easy to extend the argument to a rotating object in an isotropic space and conclude that it cannot come to a stop at any particular angle since there is no special angle; hence its angular momentum is conserved.

(ii) and (iii) amount to covariance of the laws of physics under rotations in a four-dimensional space with a metric that is not positive-definite. The squared length of a 4-vector defined via this metric must then be an important invariant independent of the orientation or the velocity of the frame. Indeed, for the 4-vector Pμ this is the squared mass m2 of the particle, and it is one of the two invariant labels used in specifying the representation. The other label is the squared length of another 4-vector called the Pauli-Lubanski vector. It then follows from the algebra of the group that this squared length takes on values s(s + 1) and that in contrast to m2, which assumes continuous values, s can only be zero, or a positive integer, or half a positive odd integer. The unitary representation of the Poincaré group for a particle of mass m and spin s provides its relativistic quantum mechanical wave function. The equation of motion the wave function must obey also comes with the representation; it is the Bargmann-Wigner equation for that spin and mass. In relativistic quantum mechanics and quantum field theory, the Bargmann–Wigner equations describe free particles of arbitrary spin j, an integer for bosons (j = 1, 2, 3 …) or half-integer for fermions (j = 123252 …). The solutions to the equations are wavefunctions, mathematically in the form of multi-component spinor fields. The procedure of second quantization then naturally promotes the wave functions to quantized field operators, and in a sense demotes the particles to quanta created or destroyed by these operators. Pauli’s spin-statistics theorem, based on a set of very general requirements such as the existence of a lowest energy vacuum state, the positivity of energy and probability, microcausality, and the invariance of the laws of Physics under the Poincaré group, leads to the result that the only acceptable quantum conditions for field operators of integer-spin particles are commutation relations, while those corresponding to half-integer spin must obey anticommutation relations. The standard terms for the two families of particles are bosons and fermions, respectively. The Pauli’s Exclusion Principle, or the impossibility of putting two electrons into the same state, is now seen to be the result of the anticommutation relation between electron creation operators: to place two fermions in the same state, the same creation operator has to be applied twice. The result must vanish, since the operator anticommutes with itself.

The symmetries of space-time are reflected in the fields which are representations of the symmetry groups; a quantum mechanical recipe called quantization then turns these fields into operators capable of creating and destroying quanta (or particles, in more common parlance) at all space-time points. Actually, the framework we have described only suffices to describe “Free fields” which do not interact with each other. In order to incorporate interactions, one has to resort to another kind of symmetry called gauge symmetry, which operates in an “internal” space attached to each point of space-time. While the identity of masses and spins of, say, electrons can be attributed to space-time symmetries, the identities of additional quantum numbers such as charge, isospin and “color” can only be explained in terms of the representations of these gauge groups.

Unruh Radiation, Black Holes and Partial Waves. Note Quote.


It is well known that Hawking radiation from an asymptotically flat Schwarzschild black hole is dominated by low angular momentum modes. This is a consequence of the fact that a black hole of Hawking temperaure TH and Schwarzschild radius rs has TH rs ∼ 1, so that high angular momentum modes of energy TH are trapped behind a large barrier in the effective radial potential. Since a local observer is unlikely to encounter such quanta, one might then conclude that a (much-weakened) version of postulate “A freely falling observer experiences nothing out of the ordinary when crossing the horizon” might still hold in which the suppression is replaced by a fixed (1/area) power law. In addition, one would need to propose a mechanism through which these quanta would arise from the infalling perspective. This would appear to require that the infalling observer experience violations of local quantum field theory at this (power-law-suppressed) level.

This would already be a striking result: these quanta must appear quite close to the horizon and so violate the standard wisdom that the horizon is not a distinguished location. And they are not rare in the sense that their number is of the same order as the number of actual Hawking quanta.

As noted long ago by Unruh and Wald, it is possible to ‘mine’ energy from the modes trapped behind the effective potential. The basic procedure is to lower some object below the potential barrier, let the object absorb the trapped modes, and then raise the object back above the barrier. Unruh and Wald thought of the object as a box that could be opened to collect ambient radiation and then closed to keep the radiation from escaping. One may also visualize the object as a particle detector, though the two are equivalent at the level discussed here.

In the context of such a mining operation, one need only consider the internal state of the mining equipment to be part of the late-time Hawking radiation. In particular, postulate “outside the stretched horizon of a massive black hole, physics can be described to good approximation by a set of semi-classical field equations”, can be used to evolve the mode to be mined backward in time and to conclude for an old black hole that, even before the mining process takes place, the mode must be fully entangled with the early-time radiation. “A freely falling observer experiences nothing out of the ordinary when crossing the horizon” is then violated for these modes as well, suggesting that the infalling observer encounters a Planck density of Planck scale radiation and burns up. One might say that the black hole is protected by a Planck-scale firewall.

Note that this firewall need not be visible to any observer that remains outside the horizon. All that we have argued is that the infalling observer does not experience a pure state. There remains considerable freedom in the possible reduced density matrices that could describe a few localized degrees of freedom outside the black hole, so that this matrix might still agree perfectly with that predicted by Hawking. In this case any local signal that an external observer might hope to ascribe to the firewall at distance 1/ω cannot be disentangled from the Unruh radiation that results from probing this scale without falling into the black hole.