New physics book covers atoms, lasers and gravity

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On August 11, 2022

Ever since quantum field theory was effectively invented in 1947 by Hans Albrecht Bethe, it has been a part of advanced physics studies. Quantum electrodynamics provides researchers with a framework to study the interaction of particles and radiation through mathematics.

“Quantum electrodynamics helps us to see the world in new ways and then changes our perspective,” says Dr. Ulrich Jentschura, professor of physics at Missouri University of Science and Technology. “It deals with the very fundamentals of physics and connects research aspects in ways that cannot otherwise be put together for comparison.”

Jentschura covers the topic at length in a new book titled Quantum Electrodynamics: Atoms, Lasers, and Gravity published by World Scientific. Written alongside Dr. Gregory Adkins, the William G. and Elizabeth R. Simeral Professor of physics at Franklin & Marshall College, the book delves into the origins of quantum field theory and builds upon it to include modern fields of research, such as intense-field laser physics and gravitational interactions in ultrarelativistic limit, where particles approach the speed of light and are subject to curved spacetime.

“Adkins and I saw the need for this book as, in some sense, an update of the original 1950 book by Bethe and Edwin Salpeter,” says Jentschura. “We wanted to create a modern reference point for advanced students and those who need to refresh or advance their knowledge on a number of very necessary theoretical foundations for work in atomic physics.”

The new book tries to modernize the field of study by introducing readers to various topics surrounding quantum field theory, notably its role in bound states, laser physics and the gravitational coupling of Dirac particles. It discusses the concepts based on detailed derivations which cannot be found elsewhere in physics literature. The book is targeted towards graduate-level university students.

“The book also serves to treat a number of very complicated, and advanced, concepts that naturally come up as one treats processes involving elementary particles,” says Jentschura. “These concern the coupling of electrons and positrons to gravitational fields, and strong laser fields, as well as the main purpose of the book – the coupling of electrically charged elementary particles to form bound states.”

The authors also cover new research techniques, touches on neighboring fields like atomic physics of many-particle systems and higher-energy physics aspects such as the renormalization group concept, which attempts to describe the evolving coupling strength of fundamental interactions with the energy scale used for their observation. It also attempts to understand the unification of forces in the natural world – which describes all of nature’s forces as manifestations of one single, all-encompassing force.

“The book also contains some new research results, such as the eighth-order Foldy-Wouthuysen transformation,” says Jentschura. “This research could lead the way toward improved calculations of energy levels of atomic systems in the future.”

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