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Tag Archives: physics

Fliptomato has an excellent post on how to get into the supersymmetry literature. I’m still at the prerequisites stage, working through Peskin & Schroeder and Srednicki, but one can always dream.


Sidney Coleman taught a legendary class on Quantum Field Theory at Harvard, the lectures of which are cherished by many of the big names in physics today. Lisa Randall calls them a cult classic. I’ve been looking for these for a while, and I was thrilled to hear from fliptomato that Harvard has generously hosted these videos online.

Here are his 1975-76 lectures on QFT: link

Since the videos quality is not that good, it’s probably essential to read along with the lecture notes, transcribed by Brian Chen at Penn.

The lectures seem to provide a pretty thorough grounding in the canonical formalism, so hopefully this aspect of QFT will be slightly less of a mystery for me if I can get through some of this. He doesn’t seem to cover the path integral approach, but I’m getting enough of that in class anyway.

“The career of a young theoretical physicist consists of treating the harmonic oscillator in ever-increasing levels of abstraction.” – Sidney Coleman

Here’s a supremely ambitious vague plan of study for this semester. I want to spend the next 4 months thinking about some (subset) of the following things:

1. The path integral approach, and it’s relation to topics like solitons, instantons, monopoles. Applications to high energy and condensed matter.

2. Conformal field theory. Dualities. What is the ADS / CFT correspondence and the holographic principle?

3. Renormalization and the Renormalization group. Applications to high energy and condensed matter. Wilson loops. Renormalization and ricci flow.

The plan is subject to plenty of change as I piece together what’s going on. I’ll add useful references as I find them.

Here’s a collection of literature on these subjects:

Read More »

1. A charge appears somewhere for a time period tau and disappears after. What is the field pattern that ensues?

2. An circular patch of uniform magnetic field is switched on for a period tau and then switched off. What’s the field pattern this creates?

Answers to follow as I work them out. đŸ™‚

Sidney Coleman died recently. Coleman pic

Let his legacy live on:

Coleman QFT notes part I

Coleman QFT notes part II

These notes have been transcribed by Brian Hill. Thanks, Brian!

On page 276, in a section called ‘Discovering all possible Lorentz trasformation laws of fields’, there’s a footnote that coolly remarks: “a person who is tired of group theory is tired of life.”

The videos at SidneyFest (a conference held in his honor in 2005 attended by the best and brightest in physics) are a great way to learn about his amazing contributions.