University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

High Energy Theory Lunchtime Seminar

Friday, March 25th 2016
Speaker: Matthew Schwartz, (Harvard)
Subject: Tunneling in Quantum Field Theory and the Fate of the Universe

One of the most concrete implications of the discovery of the Higgs boson is that, in the absence of physics beyond the standard model, the long term fate of our universe can now be established through precision calculations. Are we in a metastable minimum of the Higgs potential or the true minimum? If we are in a metastable vacuum, what is its lifetime? To answer these questions, we need to understand tunneling in quantum field theory. As we delve into how tunneling works, we find many unusual elements: complex quantities which should be real, gauge-dependent quantities which should be physical, an hbar expansion which differs from the ordinary loop expansion, and ultraviolet degrees of freedom that don't decouple. This talk will discuss some of these elements and present some new perspectives on quantum tunneling.

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