The Euler-Heisenberg Effective Action: History and Scientific Legacy

Speaker:Professor Gerald V. Dunne
Affiliation:Department of Physics University of Connecticut
Location:Lidow Rosen Auditorium (323)
Abstract:In a classic paper in 1935, Heisenberg and his student Hans
Euler computed the all-orders QED vacuum polarization effect due to an
external uniform electromagnetic field, quantifying for the first time the
possibility of photon-photon scattering, vacuum birefringence, and
particle production from vacuum. Although it preceded the formal theory of
QED by many years, this paper has been hugely influential, playing a role
in relativistic quantum field theory analogous to Landau's work on
diamagnetism, and Casmir's work on photon vacuum polarization effects.
This talk discusses the historical context, the scientific ideas and some
of the applications of this work.