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Zenith Grant Awardee

Dr. John F. Donoghue

University of Massachusetts

Project Title

Emergent Gauge Symmetry

Project Summary

In our theories of the fundamental interactions, symmetries are often used to help define the nature of the theory. In searching for new theories, most investigators expect that the new theory will have more symmetry than we see visible at ordinary energies. This sometimes makes the theory simpler or more beautiful. However, the link from such a simple theory to our complicated world must then also be complicated. The present project explores the possibility that the fundamental theory has very little symmetry. In this case, the symmetry that we do see at ordinary energies must emerge dynamically from the less symmetric starting point. There are suggestions that this emergence can in fact occur and the point of the present project is to build on these possibilities to construct a complete theory of the fundamental interactions in which the basic interactions emerge dynamically.

Technical Abstract

This project seeks to show that it is possible that the gauge interactions that underlie the Standard Model and General Relativity can emerge from a more fundamental starting point that does not already exhibit these symmetries. These interactions are then said to be emergent, much as the equations governing fluids emerge as the long wavelength approximation to atomic interactions. If such a construction is possible with a limited number of degrees of freedom, as is suggested by present studies of spin liquids, this will provide a novel approach to the nature of the fundamental interactions. In particular, it would have a important consequences for the high energy behavior of quantum field theory and quantum gravity. The ultimate goal would be to construct an emergent version of the Standard Model. A short-term objective will be to understand how one can generate non-abelian gauge fields and gravitons as emergent from a gauge liquid framework.

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