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Relativity in Modern Physics$
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Nathalie Deruelle and Jean-Philippe Uzan

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198786399

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198786399.001.0001

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The classical scalar field

The classical scalar field

(p.257) 9 The classical scalar field
Relativity in Modern Physics

Nathalie Deruelle

Jean-Philippe Uzan

Oxford University Press

This chapter explains some of the properties of scalar fields, which are paradigmatic in relativistic field theory. It also shows how a complex scalar field can confer an effective mass to a ‘gauge’ field. The chapter first provides the Klein–Gordon equation derived from the Euler–Lagrange equations outlined in the previous chapter. It then illustrates the Fourier transform of a free field, before embarking on further discussions on complex fields, charge, and symmetry breaking. Finally, this chapter considers that the fact that global symmetry breaking leads to the appearance of a massless, and therefore long-range, scalar field is problematic because such a field is not observed experimentally. It thus takes a look at the BEH mechanism (named after its inventors, Robert Brout, François Englert, and Peter Higgs), which can make it ‘disappear’.

Keywords:   scalar fields, relativistic field theory, Klein–Gordon equation, Fourier transform, free field, complex fields, charge, symmetry breaking, BEH mechanism

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