End of the year quote


“An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self sustained.”

(Mahatma Gandhi, Young India 1924-1926 (1927), p. 1285.)

That strange behavior of supersymmetry…



I am a careful reader of scientific literature and an avid searcher for already published material in peer reviewed journals. Of course, arxiv is essential to accomplish this task and to satisfy my needs for reading. In these days, I am working on Dyson-Schwinger equations. I have written on this a paper (see here) a few years ago but this work is in strong need to be revised. Maybe, some of these days I will take the challenge. Googling around and looking for the Dyson-Schwinger equations applied to the well-known supersymmetric model due to Wess and Zumino, I have uncovered a very exciting track of research that uses Dyson-Schwinger equations to produce exact results in quantum field theory. The paper I have got was authored by Marc Bellon, Gustavo Lozano and Fidel Schaposnik and can be found here. These authors get the Dyson-Schwinger equations for the Wess-Zumino model at one loop and manage to compute the self-energies of the involved fields: A scalar, a fermion and an auxiliary bosonic field. Their equations are yielded for three different self-energies, different for each field. Self-energies are essential in quantum field theory as they introduce corrections to masses in a propagator and so enters into the physical part of an object that is not an observable.

Now, if you are in a symmetric theory like the Wess-Zumino model, such a symmetry, if it is not broken, will yield equal masses to all the components of the multiplet entering into the theory. This means that if you start with the assumption that in this case all the self-energies are equal, you are doing a consistent approximation. This is what Bellon, Lozano and Schaposnik just did. They assumed from the start that all the self-energies are equal for the Dyson Schwinger equations they get and go on with their computations. This choice leaves an open question: What if do I choose different self-energies from the start? Will the Dyson-Schwiner equations drive the solution toward the symmetric one?

This question is really interesting as the model considered is not exactly the one that Witten analysed in his famous paper  on 1982 on breaking of a supersymmetry (you can download his paper here). Supersymmetric model generates non-linear terms and could be amenable to spontaneous symmetry breaking, provided the Witten index has the proper values. The question I asked is strongly related to the idea of a supersymmetry breaking at the bootstrap: Supersymmetry is responsible for its breaking.

So, I managed to numerically solve Dyson-Schwinger equations for the Wess-Zumino model as yielded by Bellon, Lozano and Schaposnik and presented the results in a paper (see here). If you solve them assuming from the start all the self-energies are equal you get the following figure for coupling running from 0.25 to 100 (weak to strong):

All equal self-energies for the Wess-Zumino model

It does not matter the way you modify your parameters in the Dyson-Schwinger equations. Choosing them all equal from the start makes them equal forever. This is a consistent choice and this solution exists. But now, try to choose all different self-energies. You will get the following figure for the same couplings:

Not all equal self-energies for the Wess-Zumino model

This is really nice. You see that exist also solutions with all different self-energies and supersymmetry may be broken in this model. This kind of solutions has been missed by the authors. What one can see here is that supersymmetry is preserved for small couplings, even if we started with all different self-energies, but is broken as the coupling becomes stronger. This result is really striking and unexpected. It is in agreement with the results presented here.

I hope to extend this analysis to more mundane theories to analyse behaviours that are currently discussed in literature but never checked for. For these aims there are very powerful tools developed for Mathematica by Markus Huber, Jens Braun and Mario Mitter to get and numerically solve Dyson-Schwinger equations: DoFun anc CrasyDSE (thanks to Markus Huber for help). I suggest to play with them for numerical explorations.

Marc Bellon, Gustavo S. Lozano, & Fidel A. Schaposnik (2007). Higher loop renormalization of a supersymmetric field theory Phys.Lett.B650:293-297,2007 arXiv: hep-th/0703185v1

Edward Witten (1982). Constraints on Supersymmetry Breaking Nuclear Physics B, 202, 253-316 DOI: 10.1016/0550-3213(82)90071-2

Marco Frasca (2013). Numerical study of the Dyson-Schwinger equations for the Wess-Zumino
model arXiv arXiv: 1311.7376v1

Marco Frasca (2012). Chiral Wess-Zumino model and breaking of supersymmetry arXiv arXiv: 1211.1039v1

Markus Q. Huber, & Jens Braun (2011). Algorithmic derivation of functional renormalization group equations and
Dyson-Schwinger equations Computer Physics Communications, 183 (6), 1290-1320 arXiv: 1102.5307v2

Markus Q. Huber, & Mario Mitter (2011). CrasyDSE: A framework for solving Dyson-Schwinger equations arXiv arXiv: 1112.5622v2

Living dangerously



Today, I read an interesting article on New York Times by Dennis Overbye (see here). Of course, for researchers, a discovery that does not open new puzzles is not really a discovery but just the end of the story. But the content of the article is intriguing and is related to the question of the stability of our universe. This matter was already discussed in blogs (e.g. see here) and is linked to a paper by Giuseppe Degrassi, Stefano Di Vita, Joan Elias-Miró, José R. Espinosa, Gian F. Giudice, Gino Isidori, Alessandro Strumia (see here)  with the most famous picture

Stability and Higgs

Our universe, with its habitants, lives in that small square at the border between stability and meta-stability. So, it takes not too much to “live dangerously” as the authors say. Just a better measurement of the mass of the top quark can throw us there and this is in our reach at the restart of LHC. Anyhow, their estimation of the tunnel time is really reassuring as the required time is bigger than any reasonable cosmological age. Our universe, given the data coming from LHC, seems to live in a metastable state. This is further confirmed in a more recent paper by the same authors (see here). This means that the discovery of the Higgs boson with the given mass does not appear satisfactory from a theoretical standpoint and, besides the missing new physics, we are left with open questions that naturalness and supersymmetry would have properly assessed. The light mass of the Higgs boson, 125 GeV, in the framewrok of the Higgs mechanism, recently awarded with a richly deserved Nobel prize to Englert and Higgs, with an extensive use of weak perturbation theory is looking weary.

The question to be answered is: Is there any point in this logical chain where we can intervene to put all this matter on a proper track? Or is this the situation with the Standard Model to hold down to the Planck energy?

In all this matter there is a curious question that arises when you work with a conformal Standard Model. In this case, there is no mass term for the Higgs potential but rather, the potential gets modified by quantum corrections (Coleman-Weinberg mechanism) and a non-null vacuum expectation value comes out. But one has to grant that higher order quantum corrections cannot spoil conformal invariance. This happens if one uses dimensional regularization rather than other renormalization schemes. This grants that no quadratic correction arises and the Higgs boson is “natural”. This is a rather strange situation. Dimensional regularization works. It was invented by ‘t Hooft and Veltman and largely used by Wilson and others in their successful application of the renormalization group to phase transitions. So, why does it seem to behave differently (better!) in this situation? To decide we need a measurement of the Higgs potential that presently is out of discussion.

But there is a fundamental point that is more important than “naturalness” for which a hot debate is going on. With the pioneering work of Nambu and Goldstone we have learned a fundamental lesson: All the laws of physics are highly symmetric but nature enjoys a lot to hide all these symmetries. A lot of effort was required by very smart people to uncover them being very well hidden (do you remember the lesson from Lorentz invariance?). In the Standard Model there is a notable exception: Conformal invariance appears to be broken by hand by the Higgs potential. Why? Conformal invariance is really fundamental as all two-dimensional theories enjoy it. A typical conformal theory is string theory and we can build up all our supersymmetric models with such a property then broken down by whatever mechanism. Any conceivable more fundamental theory has conformal invariance and we would like this to be there also in the low-energy limit with a proper mechanism to break it. But not by hand.

Finally, we observe that all our theories seem to be really lucky: the coupling is always small and we can work out small perturbation theory. Also strong interactions, at high energies, become weakly interacting. In their papers, Gian Giudice et al. are able to show that the self-interaction of the Higgs potential is seen to decrease at higher energies and so, they satisfactorily apply perturbation theory. Indeed, they show that there will be an energy for which this coupling is zero and is due to change sign. As they work at high energies, the form of their potential just contains a quartic term. My question here is rather peculiar: What if exist exact solutions for finite (non-zero) quartic coupling that go like the inverse power of the coupling? We were not able to recover them with perturbation theory  but nature could have sat there. So, we would need to properly do perturbation theory around them to do the right physics. I have given some of there here and here but one cannot exclude that others exist. This also means that the mechanism of symmetry breaking can hide some surprises and the matter could not be completely settled. Never heard of breaking a symmetry by a zero mode?

So, maybe it is not our universe on the verge of showing a dangerous life but rather some of our views need a revision or a better understanding. Only then the next step will be easier to unveil. Let my bet on supersymmetry again.

Living Dangerously

Giuseppe Degrassi, Stefano Di Vita, Joan Elias-Miró, José R. Espinosa, Gian F. Giudice, Gino Isidori, & Alessandro Strumia (2012). Higgs mass and vacuum stability in the Standard Model at NNLO JHEP August 2012, 2012:98 arXiv: 1205.6497v2

Dario Buttazzo, Giuseppe Degrassi, Pier Paolo Giardino, Gian F. Giudice, Filippo Sala, Alberto Salvio, & Alessandro Strumia (2013). Investigating the near-criticality of the Higgs boson arXiv arXiv: 1307.3536v1

Marco Frasca (2009). Exact solutions of classical scalar field equations J.Nonlin.Math.Phys.18:291-297,2011 arXiv: 0907.4053v2

Marco Frasca (2013). Exact solutions and zero modes in scalar field theory arXiv arXiv: 1310.6630v1

Ending and consequences of Terry Tao’s criticism



Summer days are gone and I am back to work. I thought that Terry Tao’s criticism to my work was finally settled and his intervention was a good one indeed. Of course, people just remember the criticism but not how the question evolved since then (it was 2009!). Terry’s point was that the mapping given here between the scalar field solutions and the Yang-Mills field in the classical limit cannot be exact as it is not granted that they represent an extreme for the Yang-Mills functional. In this way the conclusions given in the paper are not granted being based on this proof. The problem can be traced back to the gauge invariance of the Yang-Mills theory that is explicitly broken in this case.

Terry Tao, in a private communication, asked me to provide a paper, to be published on a refereed journal, that fixed the problem. In such a case the question would have been settled in a way or another. E.g., also a result disproving completely the mapping would have been good, disproving also my published paper.

This matter is rather curious as, if you fix the gauge to be Lorenz (Landau), the mapping is exact. But the possible gauge choices are infinite and so, there seems to be infinite cases where the mapping theorem appears to fail. The lucky case is that lattice computations are generally performed in Landau gauge and when you do quantum field theory a gauge must be chosen. So, is the mapping theorem really false or one can change it to fix it all?

In order to clarify this situation, I decided to solve the classical equations of the Yang-Mills theory perturbatively in the strong coupling limit. Please, note that today I am the only one in the World able to perform such a computation having completely invented the techniques to do perturbation theory when a perturbation is taken to go to infinity (sorry, no AdS/CFT here but I can surely support it). You will note that this is the opposite limit to standard perturbation theory when one is looking for a parameter that goes to zero. I succeeded in doing so and put a paper on arxiv (see here) that was finally published the same year, 2009.

The theorem changed in this way:

The mapping exists in the asymptotic limit of the coupling running to infinity (leading order), with the notable exception of the Lorenz (Landau) gauge where it is exact.

So, I sighed with relief. The reason was that the conclusions of my paper on propagators were correct. But these hold asymptotically in the limit of a strong coupling. This is just what one needs in the infrared limit where Yang-Mills theory becomes strongly coupled and this is the main reason to solve it on the lattice. I cited my work on Tao’s site, Dispersive Wiki. I am a contributor to this site. Terry Tao declared the question definitively settled with the mapping theorem holding asymptotically (see here).

In the end, we were both right. Tao’s criticism was deeply helpful while my conclusions on the propagators were correct. Indeed, my gluon propagator agrees perfectly well, in the infrared limit, with the data from the largest lattice used in computations so far  (see here)

Comparison with lattice dataAs generally happens in these cases, the only fact that remains is the original criticism by a great mathematician (and Terry is) that invalidated my work (see here for a question on Physics Stackexchange). As you can see by the tenths of papers I published since then, my work stands and stands very well. Maybe, it would be time to ask the author.

Marco Frasca (2007). Infrared Gluon and Ghost Propagators Phys.Lett.B670:73-77,2008 arXiv: 0709.2042v6

Marco Frasca (2009). Mapping a Massless Scalar Field Theory on a Yang-Mills Theory: Classical
Case Mod. Phys. Lett. A 24, 2425-2432 (2009) arXiv: 0903.2357v4

Attilio Cucchieri, & Tereza Mendes (2007). What’s up with IR gluon and ghost propagators in Landau gauge? A puzzling answer from huge lattices PoS LAT2007:297,2007 arXiv: 0710.0412v1

The Witten’s paradox



Edward Witten is one of the greatest living physicists and also ranks high with mathematicians. He set the agenda for theoretical physics in several areas of research. He is mostly known for championing string theory and being one of few people that revolutionized the field. One of his major contributions to supersymmetry has been a deep understanding of its breaking. In a pair of famous papers (here and here) he put the foundations to our current understanding on the way supersymmetry can break and introduced the well-known Witten index. If a supersymmetric theory breaks supersymmetry then its Witten index is 0. This index is generally very difficult to compute and only perturbative or lattice computations can come to rescue. An important conclusion from Witten’s paper is that the well-known Wess-Zumino model in four dimensions does not break supersymmetry. Witten could rigorously justify this conclusion at small coupling but, at that time, an approach for strong coupling was missing and here Maldacena conjecture cannot help. Anyhow, he concluded that this should be true also for a strongly coupled Wess-Zumino model. Checks to this model in such a regime are rare. After I submitted a paper on arxiv last year (see here) I become aware of an attempt using Dyson-Schwinger equations that confirmed Witten conclusions for small coupling (see here). I have had an interesting mail exchange with one of the authors and this seems a promising approach, given authors’ truncation of Dyson-Schwinger hierarchy. Other approaches consider the Wess-Zumino model in two dimensions on the lattice. So, this appears a rather unexplored area , given the difficulties to cope with a strongly coupled theory, and Witten’s words appear like nails on a coffin to this theory.

I have worked out a lot of techniques to cope with strongly coupled theories and everywhere there is a perturbation going to infinity in a differential equation of any kind and so, I applied these ideas also to this famous model of supersymmetry. The idea is to prove that “supersymmetry has inside itself the seeds of its breaking“. The real issue at stake here is a correct understanding of the way supersymmetry breaks and recover in this way models that now appear to be defeated by data from LHC simply because the idea of symmetry breaking must be applied differently.

Of course, I do not aim to present a claim against the beautiful results given by Witten decades ago but just open up an interesting scientific question. So, considering that the Wess-Zumino model is just a theory of two scalar fields coupled to a Majorana spinor, its equations can be treated classically and so solved both for a strong and a weak coupling limit. I did this in a paper of mine (see here) and this paper has been accepted in these days in the Journal of Nonlinear Mathematical Physics as a letter. The classical solutions contradict the expectations giving a surviving of the supersymmetry at small coupling (as expected from Witten index for the quantum theory) while this does not happen for a strong coupling (formal limit of the coupling going to infinity). This is  a paradox, the Witten paradox, because classical solutions seem to break supersymmetry while the quantum theory does not.  So, we are left with a deep question: How is supersymmetry recovered by quantum corrections?

Marco Frasca (2012). Chiral Wess-Zumino model and breaking of supersymmetry arXiv arXiv: 1211.1039v1

A. Bashir, & J. Lorenzo Diaz-Cruz (1999). A study of Schwinger-Dyson Equations for Yukawa and Wess-Zumino Models J.Phys.G25:1797-1805,1999 arXiv: hep-ph/9906360v1

Marco Frasca (2012). Classical solutions of a massless Wess-Zumino model arXiv arXiv: 1212.1822v2

Some more news on warp drive



Today, New York Times published an article with an interview to Harold “Sonny” White about NASA studies on warp drive (see here). This revamped the interest about what NASA is funding (with a really small budget being  just $50,000) on this that have to be considered forefront research. For the readers that are not aware about what this research is aimed to, I invite them to read the very good article on Wikipedia about Alcubierre drive. As can be easily imagined, this article gets some new adding  each day and moves the curiosity of a myriad of people around the world. So, the activity of this NASA’s group is under a lot of attention by media and, with a lot of skepticism, by the scientific community. Alcubierre itself, the inventor of this idea, does not believe at all that is doable. The main reasons are well explained here (hat tip to Jennifer Ouellette) and one of these, the most important one maybe, is a lot of missing information as studies on this idea showed more its impossibility than else.

Anyhow,  we hope that Harold White will fill all the details at 2013 Starship Congress that he will attend giving a talk (see here). The schedule is here. He will speak on August 17th.

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

Waiting for EPS HEP 2013: Some thoughts



On 18th July the first summer HEP Conference will start in Stockholm. We do not expect great announcements from CMS and ATLAS as most of the main results from 2011-2012 data were just unraveled. The conclusions is that the particle announced on 4th July last year is a Higgs boson. It decays in all the modes foreseen by the Standard Model and important hints favor spin 0. No other resonance is seen at higher energies behaving this way. It is a single yet. There are a lot of reasons to be happy: We have likely seen the guilty for the breaking of the symmetry in the Standard Model and, absolutely for the first time, we have a fundamental particle behaving like a scalar. Both of these properties were looked upon for a long time and now this search is finally ended. On the bad side, no hint of new physics is seen anywhere and probably we will have to wait the restart of LHC on 2015. The long sought SUSY is at large yet.

Notwithstanding this hopeless situation for theoretical physics, my personal view is that there is something that gives important clues to great novelties that possibly will transmute into something of concrete at the restart. It is important to note that there seem to exist some differences between CMS and ATLAS  and this small disagreement can hide interesting news for the future. I cannot say if, due to the different conception of this two detectors, something different should be seen but is there. Anyway, they should agree in the end of the story and possibly this will happen in the near future.

The first essential point, that is often overlooked due to the overall figure, is the decay of the Higgs particle in a couple of W or Z. WW decay has a significantly large number of events and what CMS claims is indeed worth some deepening. This number is significantly below one. There is  a strange situation here because CMS gives 0.76\pm 0.21 and in the overall picture just write 0.68\pm 0.20 and so, I cannot say what is the right one. But they are consistent each other so not a real problem here. Similarly, ZZ decay yields 0.91^{+0.30}_{-0.24}. ATLAS, on the other side, yields for WW decay 0.99^{+0.31}_{-0.28} and for ZZ decay 1.43^{+0.40}_{-0.35}. Error bars are large yet and fluctuations can change these values. The interesting point here, but this has the value of a clue as these data agree with Standard Model at 2\sigma, is that the lower values for the WW decay can be an indication that this Higgs particle could be a conformal one. This would mean room for new physics. For ZZ decay apparently ATLAS seems to have a lower number of events as this figure is somewhat larger and the error bar as well. Anyway, a steady decrease has been seen for the WW decay as a larger dataset was considered. This decrease, if confirmed at the restart, would mean a major finding after the discovery of the Higgs particle. It should be said that ATLAS already published updated results with the full dataset (see here). I would like to emphasize that a conformal Standard Model can imply SUSY.

The second point is a bump found by CMS in the \gamma\gamma channel (see here).  This is what they see

CMS Another Higgs

but ATLAS sees nothing there and this is possibly a fluke. Anyway, this is about 3\sigma and so CMS reported about on a publication of them.

Finally, it is also possible that heavier Higgs particles could have depressed production rates and so are very rare. This also would be consistent with a conformal Standard Model. My personal view is that all hopes to see new physics at LHC are essentially untouched and maybe this delay to unveil it is just due to the unlucky start of the LHC on 2008. Meantime, we have to use the main virtue of a theoretical physicist: keeping calm and being patient.

Update: Here is the press release from CERN.

ATLAS Collaboration (2013). Measurements of Higgs boson production and couplings in diboson final
states with the ATLAS detector at the LHC arXiv arXiv: 1307.1427v1


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