Does Quantum Electrodynamics Explain the Observed Lamb Shift?
While so far the success of nonrelativistic quantum theory for systems with finite numbers of degrees of freedom has been astounding, and relativistic quantum theory of electrons has made predictions about spin and about positrons that have well been confirmed by observations, applications of quantum theory to systems with infinite numbers of degrees of freedom suggest that quantum theory in its present form is not yet completely correct. Predictions made by quantum field theory, in particular by quantum electrodynamics, are obtained only by what a mathematician would call “swindles,” like treating divergent renormalizations as small corrections. Physicists so far have accepted these swindles, because they consider it reasonable that at very small distances the present theory would yet require corrections, which, they hope, will in the future lead to finite results that would lie close to the results presently obtained by treating logarithmically divergent integrals as finite quantities.
KeywordsIntermediate State Virtual Photon Lamb Shift Soft Photon Hard Photon
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