Quantum Field Theory

The Quantum Field Theory


In 1905 Einstein combined Faraday’s view of light as a stream of particles with Maxwell’s view of light as a stream of waves. He  theorized that light exhibits the properties of a wave but also behaves like particles. Because of this new interpretation, the effect of gravity is not only confined to the curvature of space-time but also light (Henrik Antoon Lorentz, 2009:29). This observation by Einstein paved the way to the birth of the popularly known “wave-particle duality” of atomic elements, which as we all know by now is the foundation of quantum physics (Rodney A. Brooks, 2010).

But at that time this wave-particle duality was still unpopular, even unacceptable since it appears confusing and paradoxical. It is paradoxical since, as T. Norsen (in Rodney Brooks, 2014) explained: “particles are, by definition, localized entities that follow definite trajectories while waves are not confined to any particular path or region of space.” Scientists, however, observe that, in the quantum world, particles can appear, disappear, vanish, and reappear at any moment in space and through time. An observed electron, for instance, can disappear and reappear elsewhere in another region of the space-time continuum in a matter of microseconds.

In another case, a neutron can decay into a proton, an electron, and a neutrino in a matter of about 930 seconds, while a muon decays into an electron and a couple of neutrinos with a lifetime of about 2.2 microseconds (Brian Hatfield, 2014). This appearance and disappearance of particles introduced the quantum field theory (QFT). QFT  explains the paradox that exists in the wave-particle duality by contending that disparate behaviors of particles and waves can co-exist in a coherent manner.

This means that particles and waves can simultaneously, be both local and nonlocal (Anthony Duncan, 2012).

The foundations of QFT were laid down by Paul Dirac and Heisenberg (Franz Mandi and Graham Shaw, 2013). As of this writing, it became one of the most important tool for understanding and explaining the microscopic world (Itzykson and Zuber, 1980). It became accepted as the “true theory of nature” and, we might as well say, “the true fabric of the Cosmos” (Novel laureate Frank Wilcek (2015).

This is not yet the end of our discussion, for the above field theory were still unable to integrate the force of gravity into the equation. Their efforts began to be rewarded since these led to the development of the Holographic theory that springs out as a result of String theory and its extension M theory, believed to be the likely candidate to unify all known particles and forces into one coherent theoretical framework (McMahon, 2008).