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Wick rotation

It is normally believed that viewing time as time, that is to say a real coordinate $t$ with a Minkowski metric, is equivalent to viewing it as a space coordinate $x^4$ (with a Euclidean metric) that is turned into imaginary values by means of the Wick rotation. Indeed, most quantum field theories, including the standard model, can be equivalently formulated directly in Minkowski spacetime or by Wick rotating their Euclidean versions.

However, in a recent paper it was shown that the two formulations are not always equivalent. In particular, they are not equivalent in a wide realm of quantum field theories that is relevant for the search of quantum gravity.

The two formulations differ so much that one of the two, the Minkowski one, is mathematically inconsistent, because it leads to nonlocal divergences that cannot be subtracted away. The only viable formulation of quantum field theory is thus the Wick rotation of a Euclidean theory.

This observation could have very broad consequences. Ultimately, it tells us that the environment of quantum field theory is not Minkowski spacetime, but a different kind of spacetime, which we may call Wick spacetime, that is to say the Wick rotated Euclidean space.

If we believe that quantum field theory is the correct framework to describe nature, as all experimental evidence suggests so far, the conclusion extends from quantum field theory to nature itself, i.e.

the universe does not live in Minkowski spacetime, but in Wick spacetime.

Said differently,

time is not time, but an imaginary space.

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14B1 D. Anselmi

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Last update: May 9th 2015, 230 pages

Contents: Preface | 1. Functional integral | 2. Renormalization | 3. Renormalization group | 4. Gauge symmetry | 5. Canonical formalism | 6. Quantum electrodynamics | 7. Non-Abelian gauge field theories | Notation and useful formulas | References

Course on renormalization, taught in Pisa in 2015. (More chapters will be added later.)