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Bogolyubov, Shirkov and the renormalisation group work


Inconsistencies in the theory of quantum electrodynamics
Murray Gell-Mann Scientist
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We included, I think in an appendix, all the formulae for the ψ function and the essential feature of what people call the renormalization group,  that as the scale changed the problem remained the same, but with a different coupling constant, and the ψ function described how the coupling constant varied with scale. The... there were two possibilities that were envisaged. One was that the function would diverge, that the integral, that the x/ψ of x would diverge at infinity, in which case there would be a... an infinite renormalization for the electric charge in quantum electrodynamics. The other possibility we envisaged was that it would diverge at a finite value, and then there would be a finite value of the charge renormalization. What didn't occur to us was that the theory of quantum electrodynamics might be inconsistent with itself, in which... which would be represented by having our integral converge.

New York-born physicist Murray Gell-Mann (1929-2019) was known for his creation of the eightfold way, an ordering system for subatomic particles, comparable to the periodic table. His discovery of the omega-minus particle filled a gap in the system, brought the theory wide acceptance and led to Gell-Mann's winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1969.

Listeners: Geoffrey West

Geoffrey West is a Staff Member, Fellow, and Program Manager for High Energy Physics at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He is also a member of The Santa Fe Institute. He is a native of England and was educated at Cambridge University (B.A. 1961). He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1966 followed by post-doctoral appointments at Cornell and Harvard Universities. He returned to Stanford as a faculty member in 1970. He left to build and lead the Theoretical High Energy Physics Group at Los Alamos. He has numerous scientific publications including the editing of three books. His primary interest has been in fundamental questions in Physics, especially those concerning the elementary particles and their interactions. His long-term fascination in general scaling phenomena grew out of his work on scaling in quantum chromodynamics and the unification of all forces of nature. In 1996 this evolved into the highly productive collaboration with James Brown and Brian Enquist on the origin of allometric scaling laws in biology and the development of realistic quantitative models that analyse the influence of size on the structural and functional design of organisms.

Tags: Institute of Nuclear Studies, University of Chicago, University of Illinois, Urbana, Francis Low

Duration: 1 minute, 17 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008