Enrico Fermi’s birthday


Enrico Fermi in Italy (1949) (Marco Frasca memorabilia)

Today is Enrico Fermi‘s birthday. Fermi has been a real Prometheus moving mankind to the age of nuclear energy for civil aims. His contributions to our current understanding of physics are enormous and we know him as one of the greatest Italian scientists making an extraordinary pair with Galileo Galilei. The prominence of Italians on physics is mostly due to him and one of his  collaborators, Edoardo Amaldi, that during the dark age of the second world war decided to remain in Italy to rebuild the school Fermi founded. His papers have always been one of my preferred readings. I hope he will be always an example for future generations.

Enrico Fermi’s autograph (Marco Frasca memorabilia)

Confinement revisited



Today it is appeared a definitive updated version of my paper on confinement (see here). I wrote this paper last year after a question put out to me by Owe Philipsen at Bari. The point is, given a decoupling solution for the gluon propagator in the Landau gauge, how does confinement come out? I would like to remember that a decoupling solution at small momenta for the gluon propagator is given by a function reaching a finite non-zero value at zero. All the fits carried out so far using lattice data show that a sum of few Yukawa-like propagators gives an accurate representation of these data. To see an example see this paper. Sometime, this kind of propagator formula is dubbed Stingl-Gribov formula and has the property to have a fourth order polynomial in momenta at denominator and a second order one at the numerator. This was firstly postulated by Manfred Stingl on 1995 (see here). It is important to note that, given the presence of a fourth power of momenta, confinement is granted as a linear rising potential can be obtained in agreement with lattice evidence. This is also in agreement with the area law firstly put forward by Kenneth Wilson.

At that time I was convinced that a decoupling solution was enough and so I pursued my analysis arriving at the (wrong) conclusion, in a first version of the paper, that screening could be enough. So, strong force should have to saturate and that, maybe, moving to higher distances such a saturation would have been seen also on the lattice. This is not true as I know today and I learned this from a beautiful paper by Vicente Vento, Pedro González and Vincent Mathieu. They thought to solve Dyson-Schwinger equations in the deep infrared to obtain the interquark potential. The decoupling solution appears at a one-gluon exchange level and, with this approximation, they prove that the potential they get is just a screening one, in close agreement with mine and any other decoupling solution given in a close analytical form. So, the decoupling solution does not seem to agree with lattice evidence that shows a linearly rising potential, perfectly confining and in agreement with what Wilson pointed out in his classical work on 1974. My initial analysis about this problem was incorrect and Owe Philipsen was right to point out this difficulty in my approach.

This question never abandoned my mind and, with the opportunity to go to Montpellier this year to give a talk (see here), I presented for the first time a solution to this problem. The point is that one needs a fourth order term in the denominator of the propagator. This can happen if we would be able to get higher order corrections to the simplest one-gluon exchange approximation (see here). In my approach I can get loop corrections to the gluon propagator. The next-to-leading one is a two-loop term that gives rise to the right term in the denominator of the propagator. Besides, I am able to get the renormalization constant to the field and so, I also get a running mass and coupling. I gave an idea of the way this computation should be performed at Montpellier but in these days I completed it.

The result has been a shocking one. Not only one gets the linear rising potential but the string tension is proportional to the one obtained in d= 2+1 by V. Parameswaran Nair, Dimitra Karabali and Alexandr Yelnikov (see here)! This means that, apart from numerical factors and accounting for physical dimensions, the equation for the string tension in 3 and 4 dimensions is the same. But we would like to note that the result given by Nair, Karabali and Yelnikov is in close agreement with lattice data. In 3 dimensions the string tension is a pure number and can be computed explicitly on the lattice. So, we are supporting each other with our conclusions.

These results are really important as they give a strong support to the ideas emerging in these years about the behavior of the propagators of a Yang-Mills theory at low energies. We are even more near to a clear understanding of confinement and the way mass emerges at macroscopic level. It is important to point out that the string tension in a Yang-Mills theory is one of the parameters that any serious theoretical approach, pretending to go beyond a simple phenomenological one,  should be able to catch. We can say that the challenge is open.

Marco Frasca (2011). Beyond one-gluon exchange in the infrared limit of Yang-Mills theory arXiv arXiv: 1110.2297v4

Kenneth G. Wilson (1974). Confinement of quarks Phys. Rev. D 10, 2445–2459 (1974) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.10.2445

Attilio Cucchieri, David Dudal, Tereza Mendes, & Nele Vandersickel (2011). Modeling the Gluon Propagator in Landau Gauge: Lattice Estimates of Pole Masses and Dimension-Two Condensates arXiv arXiv: 1111.2327v1

M. Stingl (1995). A Systematic Extended Iterative Solution for QCD Z.Phys. A353 (1996) 423-445 arXiv: hep-th/9502157v3

P. Gonzalez, V. Mathieu, & V. Vento (2011). Heavy meson interquark potential Physical Review D, 84, 114008 arXiv: 1108.2347v2

Marco Frasca (2012). Low energy limit of QCD and the emerging of confinement arXiv arXiv: 1208.3756v2

Dimitra Karabali, V. P. Nair, & Alexandr Yelnikov (2009). The Hamiltonian Approach to Yang-Mills (2+1): An Expansion Scheme and Corrections to String Tension Nucl.Phys.B824:387-414,2010 arXiv: 0906.0783v1

Warp drive at NASA



I am currently a twitter user. One of my followings is Jeri Ryan. She has been Seven of Nine in Star Trek Voyager saga. Yesterday, it comes out of the blue what I read in one of her twits: NASA is developing warp drive! Indeed, Jeri was pointing to  this link. This is a Gizmodo’s post that was describing an effort by NASA to develop warp drive and it seemed like something consistent was in hand. Indeed, this is all true. It is a lab at NASA, Eagleworks, headed by Harold White that is working on a technical realization of the most recent ideas from physics in the area of “spacetime engineering”. This is somewhat of a new term as, so far, no ways were at our disposal to modify spacetime even if, in principle, this is a possibility offered by general relativity. If one would be able to do so, we would have warp drive but also time machines, wormholes and all that. White’s group claims to have found some loopholes in all the hurdles encountered so far in this kind of researches. The most fundamental one is that one needs a huge quantity of exotic matter to get some of these devices work. Nothing that is manageable in practice. So, all this matter was always put in an area of research much theoretical oriented. In a quite recent paper, Stefano Finazzi, Stefano Liberati and Carlos Barceló (see here)  show that Alcubierre drive is unstable with respect to quantum effects: Indeed, if you go faster than light, Hawking radiation will kill you.

So, there are some important difficulties to overcome to change the situation from theoretical to a practical one. One of the Editors of Physical Review Letters, Robert Garisto, commented as follows on twitter:

NASA warp drive story: Not sure which is less plausible, that it’s allowed by physics or that we could implement it if it were.

White’s group claims that they are on the verge to realize an experiment comparable to the Chicago Fermi’s experiment on the nuclear pile. This would imply that they have overcome all the difficulties seen so far in this kind of studies and are able to provide a working realization of the effect. You can find a paper by White here and is worth reading. They can controvert any skepticism by a sound experimental proof.

My view is always the same: As a physicist I have a blind faith on experimental facts and I would like to see accomplished one of my lifetime dreams arisen with that small step by Armstrong on the Moon. NASA is never a disappointment.

Stefano Finazzi, Stefano Liberati, & Carlos Barceló (2009). Semiclassical instability of dynamical warp drives PHYSICAL REVIEW D 79, 124017 (2009) arXiv: 0904.0141v2

Miguel Alcubierre (2000). The warp drive: hyper-fast travel within general relativity Class.Quant.Grav.11:L73-L77,1994 arXiv: gr-qc/0009013v1

ATLAS and CMS papers published



Papers by ATLAS and CMS have appeared in Physics Letters B and can be freely downloaded. They report on the discovery of the Higgs-like particle on July 4th.

CMS Collaboration (2012). Observation of a new boson at a mass of 125 GeV with the CMS experiment at the LHC Physics Letters B DOI: 10.1016/j.physletb.2012.08.021

ATLAS Collaboration (2012). Combined search for the Standard Model Higgs boson using up to 4.9 fb^{−1} of pp collision data at \sqrt{7} TeV with the ATLAS detector at the LHC Physics Letters B DOI: 10.1016/j.physletb.2012.02.044


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