Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A unified geometric framework for boundary charges and dressings

Tuesday, Oct 23rd

Aldo Riello, Perimeter Institute
Title: A unified geometric framework for boundary charges and dressings 
PDF of the talk (2M)
Audio+Slides of the talk (41M)
By Jorge Pullin, LSU (with some help from Aldo)

The electromagnetic force and all the subatomic interactions are described by a class of theories known as “gauge theories”. Even gravitation, in its modern formulation due to Einstein, is a gauge theory of sorts, although a more complicated one. The mathematical formulation of these theories is characterized by peculiar redundancies, as if the simplest way to describe the system is through a plethora of different descriptions rather than through a single “true” one. This is most often seen as a mathematical quirk rather than as a hint of some deep property of nature. This talk explores the latter possibility and build on the idea that the rationale for gauge theories must be found not so much in some property of a single system taken in isolation, but rather in the way systems can come together and talk to each other. The first hint of this can be found in the fact that the natural objects populating a gauge theory (“observables”) are intrinsically nonlocal and therefore can’t be easily localized in a given region, without carefully keeping track of what happens at its boundaries. The simplest example of this phenomenon can be found in the electron, that can never be separated from its electric field, which in turn can be detected even at a distance from the electron. This talk presents a novel mathematical framework that by embracing the relational perspective unifies many seemingly unrelated aspects of gauge theories and might – in its future developments – clarifies the analogous but harder conceptual issues one finds on their way to quantum gravity.

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