From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The history of quantum field theory starts with
its creation by Paul
Dirac, when he attempted to quantize the electromagnetic field in the late
1920s.
Foundations
The early development of the field involved Fock,
Pauli, Heisenberg, Bethe, Tomonaga,
Schwinger,
Feynman, and
Dyson. This
phase of development culminated with the construction of the theory
of quantum electrodynamics in the
1950s.
Gauge
theory
Gauge theory
was formulated and quantized, leading to the
unification of forces embodied in the standard model of particle
physics. This effort started in the 1950s with the work of Yang and Mills, was carried on by Martinus Veltman and a host of others
during the 1960s and completed
by the 1970s through the work of
Gerard 't Hooft, Frank Wilczek, David Gross and David Politzer.
Grand
synthesis
Parallel developments in the understanding of phase transitions in condensed matter physics led
to the study of the renormalization group. This in
turn led to the grand synthesis of theoretical
physics which unified theories of particle and condensed matter
physics through quantum field theory. This involved the work of Michael Fisher
and Leo Kadanoff
in the 1970s which led to the
seminal reformulation of quantum field theory by Kenneth G.
Wilson.
Modern
developments
The study of quantum field theory is alive and flourishing, as
are applications of this method to many physical problems. It
remains one of the most vital areas of theoretical
physics today, providing a common language to many branches of
physics.
Suggested
reading
- Pais, Abraham ; Inward Bound - Of Matter & Forces
in the Physical World, Oxford University Press (1986) [ISBN
0-19-851997-4] Written by a former Einstein assistant at Princeton,
this is a beautiful detailed history of modern fundamental physics,
from 1895 (discovery of X-rays) to 1983 (discovery of vectors
bosons at C.E.R.N.).
- Weinberg, Steven ; The Quantum Theory of Fields -
Foundations (vol. I), Cambridge University Press (1995) [ISBN
0-521-55001-7] The first chapter (pp. 1-40) of Weinberg's
monumental treatise gives a brief history of Q.F.T.
- Schweber, Silvian S. ; Q.E.D. and the men who made it:
Dyson, Feynman, Schwinger, and Tomonaga, Princeton University
Press (1994) [ISBN 0-691-03327-7]
- Yndurain, Francisco Jose ; Quantum Chromodynamics: An
Introduction to the Theory of Quarks and Gluons, Springer
Verlag, New York, 1983. [ISBN 0-387-11752-0]
- Miller, Arthur I. ; Early Quantum
Electrodynamics : A Sourcebook, Cambridge University
Press (1995) [ISBN 0-521-56891-9]
- Schwinger, Julian ; Selected Papers on Quantum
Electrodynamics, Dover Publications, Inc. (1958) [ISBN
0-486-60444-6]
- O'Raifeartaigh, Lochlainn ; The Dawning of Gauge
Theory, Princeton University Press (May 5, 1997) [ISBN
0-691-02977-6]
- Cao, Tian Yu ; Conceptual Developments of 20th Century
Field Theories, Cambridge University Press (1997) [ISBN
0-521-63420-2]
- Darrigol, Olivier ; La genèse du concept de champ
quantique, Annales de
Physique (France) 9 (1984) pp. 433-501. Text in French, adapted
from the author's Ph.D. thesis.
See also