A Case for an Empirically Demonstrable Notion of the Vacuum in Quantum Electrodynamics Independent of Dynamical Fluctuations

Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 42 (2):241-261 (2011)
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A re-evaluation of the notion of vacuum in quantum electrodynamics is presented, focusing on the vacuum of the quantized electromagnetic field. In contrast to the ‘nothingness’ associated to the idea of classical vacuum, subtle aspects are found in relation to the vacuum of the quantized electromagnetic field both at theoretical and experimental levels. These are not the usually called vacuum effects. The view defended here is that the so-called vacuum effects are not due to the ground state of the quantized electromagnetic field. Nevertheless it is possible to maintain an empirically demonstrable notion of vacuum state that is consistent with the interpretation of the formalism of the theory.

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Mario Bacelar Valente
Pablo de Olavide University


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