Schedule Oct 20, 2003
Some Lessons from Recent Progress in Quantum Field Theory in Curved Spacetime
Robert Wald (Fermi Institute ~ University of Chicago)

The usual formulation of quantum field theory in Minkowski spacetime relies heavily on Poincare invariance and the existence of a Poincare invariant vacuum state. Standard renormalization prescriptions in Minkowski spacetime rely heavily on techniques such as momentum space methods and Euclideanization. None of these features have a straightforward generalization to curved Lorentzian spacetimes. Nevertheless, during the past ten years, a mathematically rigorous perturbative formulation of interacting quantum field theory in curved spacetime has been given. I will summarize this progress and describe the nature of the resulting theory, where, at a fundamental level, there is no preferred "vacuum state" or preferred notion of "particles" and where "vacuum subtraction" is clearly seen to be an incorrect renormalization prescription (except in Minkowski spacetime).

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