Forefront research, during its natural evolution, produces some potential cornerstones that, at the end of the game, can prove to be plainly wrong. When one of these cornerstones happens to form, even if no sound confirmation at hand is available, it can make life of researchers really hard. It can be hard time to get papers published when an opposite thesis is supported. All this without any certainty of this cornerstone being a truth. You can ask to all people that at the beginning proposed the now dubbed “decoupling solution” for propagators of Yang-Mills theory in the Landau gauge and all of them will tell you how difficult was to get their papers go through in the peer-review system. The solution that at that moment was generally believed the right one, the now dubbed “scaling solution”, convinced a large part of the community that it was the one of choice. All this without any strong support from experiment, lattice or a rigorous mathematical derivation. This kind of behavior is quite old in a scientific community and never changed since the very beginning of science. Generally, if one is lucky enough things go straight and scientific truth is rapidly acquired otherwise this behavior produces delays and impediments for respectable researchers and a serious difficulty to get an understanding of the solution of a fundamental question.

Maybe, the most famous case of this kind of behavior was with the discovery by Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen-Ning Yang of parity violation in weak interactions on 1956. At that time, it was generally believed that parity should have been an untouchable principle of physics. Who believed so was proven wrong shortly after Lee and Yang’s paper. For the propagators in the Landau gauge in a Yang-Mills theory, recent lattice computations to huge volumes showed that the scaling solution never appears at dimensions greater than two. Rather, the right scenario seems to be provided by the decoupling solution. In this scenario, the gluon propagator is a Yukawa-like propagator in deep infrared or a sum of them. There is a very compelling reason to have such a kind of propagators in a strongly coupled regime and the reason is that the low energy limit recovers a Nambu-Jona-Lasinio model that provides a very fine description of strong interactions at lower energies.

From a physical standpoint, what does it mean a Yukawa or a sum of Yukawa propagators? This has a dramatic meaning for the running coupling: The theory is just trivial in the infrared limit. The decoupling solution just says this as emerged from lattice computations (see here)

What really matters here is the way one defines the running coupling in the deep infrared. This definition must be consistent. Indeed, one can think of a different definition (see here) working things out using instantons and one see the following

One can see that, independently from the definition, the coupling runs to zero in the deep infrared marking the property of a trivial theory. This idea appears currently difficult to digest by the community as a conventional wisdom formed that Yang-Mills theory should have a non-trivial fixed point in the infrared limit. There is no evidence whatsoever for this and Nature does not provide any example of pure Yang-Mills theory that appears always interacting with Fermions instead. Lattice data say the contrary as we have seen but a general belief is enough to make hard the life of researchers trying to pursue such a view. It is interesting to note that some theoretical frameworks need a non-trivial infrared fixed point for Yang-Mills theory otherwise they will crumble down.

But from a theoretical standpoint, what is the right approach to derive the behavior of the running coupling for a Yang-Mills theory? The answer is quite straightforward: Any consistent theoretical framework for Yang-Mills theory should be able to get the beta function in the deep infrared. From beta function one has immediately the right behavior of the running coupling. But in order to get it, one should be able to work out the Callan-Symanzik equation for the gluon propagator. So far, this is explicitly given in my papers (see here and refs. therein) as I am able to obtain the behavior of the mass gap as a function of the coupling. The relation between the mass gap and the coupling produces the scaling of the beta function in the Callan-Symanzik equation. Any serious attempt to understand Yang-Mills theory in the low-energy limit should provide this connection. Otherwise it is not mathematics but just heuristic with a lot of parameters to be fixed.

The final consideration after this discussion is that conventional wisdom in science should be always challenged when no sound foundations are given for it to hold. In a review process, as an editorial practice, referees should be asked to check this before to kill good works on shaky grounds.

I. L. Bogolubsky, E. -M. Ilgenfritz, M. Müller-Preussker, & A. Sternbeck (2009). Lattice gluodynamics computation of Landau-gauge Green’s functions in the deep infrared Phys.Lett.B676:69-73,2009 arXiv: 0901.0736v3

Ph. Boucaud, F. De Soto, A. Le Yaouanc, J. P. Leroy, J. Micheli, H. Moutarde, O. Pène, & J. Rodríguez-Quintero (2002). The strong coupling constant at small momentum as an instanton detector JHEP 0304:005,2003 arXiv: hep-ph/0212192v1

Marco Frasca (2010). Mapping theorem and Green functions in Yang-Mills theory PoS FacesQCD:039,2010 arXiv: 1011.3643v3