Something New Under (and in) the Sun? Effective field theories for point sources and the Hydrogen atom

This talk applies effective field theory to the back-reaction of sources with finite size but infinite mass. The main tool for calculating back-reaction is a general relation between a source's effective action and the boundary conditions of `bulk’ fields in the near-source limit. As applied to the Maxwell (or Einstein) fields for point sources this boundary condition reproduces standard Gauss’ Law expressions, but the same arguments imply source-dependent boundary conditions for the Schrodinger (or Dirac) field of an orbiting particle. As applied to the quantum mechanics of a particle interacting with a source through an inverse-square potential EFTs remove the guess-work from the (well-known) ambiguities in the determination of boundary conditions at the origin, and provides a simple interpretation of the classical renormalization effects that are known to arise in this case. EFT arguments show why the RG evolution associated with this classical renormalization is likely universal for a great many types of point sources. The EFT boundary conditions also modify how finite-size effects alter bound-state orbits in the Coulomb problem, and in particular give them a non-standard dependence on the mass of the orbiting particle. It is argued that this might provide a solution to the `proton-radius puzzle’, in which experiments seem to indicate a different proton radius depending on whether or not it is measured using electrons or muons.

Collection/Series: 
Event Type: 
Seminar
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Event Date: 
Tuesday, January 10, 2017 - 13:00 to 14:30
Location: 
Space Room
Room #: 
400