19S1 D. Anselmi
Theories of gravitation




D. Anselmi
From Physics To Life

A journey to the infinitesimally small and back

In English and Italian

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Recent Papers

Standard model

The physics of fundamental interactions is going through a concerning, prolonged period of stagnation. The incredible success of the standard model of particle physics and the lack of new experimental data have frustrated our hopes in the future. On top of that, the scientific community shattered into a large number of isolated groups. Many mainstreams have consolidated, leaving not much room for the advancement of bright, original proposals. In frontier domains, like quantum gravity, most mainstreams have disavowed the inheritance of the glowing past and embarked on uncertain routes (string theory, loop quantum gravity and many others). It is time to make room for approaches that are really out of the box and can truly trigger a renaissance of particle physics. Yet, they can only be believable if they are solidly rooted in the successes of the past. This ERC project pursues a research line that does stem from the achievements of the past, but is radically new and has the potential to take us out of this dark period. It is based on the notion of purely virtual particle, which upgrades in a crucial way our understanding of fundamental interactions through quantum field theory. One of its key predictions in primordial cosmology could be confirmed experimentally within a decade. Nevertheless, the scientific community cannot afford another decade like the past ones, so it is imperative to act now. The new idea opens the door to unthinkable scenarios and has a huge amount of ramifications and applications to all areas of fundamental physics, with the potential to build bridges between quantum gravity, primordial cosmology and the phenomenology of particle physics beyond the standard model. More key predictions are expected to follow, together with crucial ideas for future colliders. Hopefully, they will trigger the breakthroughs that we need to make a U turn, activate a virtuous circle, reunite the scientific community and lead to the renaissance of particle physics.


The techical part of the application can be viewed here

We review the concept of purely virtual particle and its uses in quantum gravity, primordial cosmology and collider physics. The fake particle, or “fakeon”, which mediates interactions without appearing among the incoming and outgoing states, can be introduced by means of a new diagrammatics. The renormalization coincides with one of the parent Euclidean diagrammatics, while unitarity follows from spectral optical identities, which can be derived by means of algebraic operations. The classical limit of a theory of physical particles and fakeons is described by an ordinary Lagrangian plus Hermitian, micro acausal and micro nonlocal self-interactions. Quantum gravity propagates the graviton, a massive scalar field (the inflaton) and a massive spin-2 fakeon, and leads to a constrained primordial cosmology, which predicts the tensor-to-scalar ratio r in the window 0.4≲1000r≲3.5. The interpretation of inflation as a cosmic RG flow allows us to calculate the perturbation spectra to high orders in the presence of the Weyl squared term. In models of new physics beyond the standard model, fakeons evade various phenomenological bounds, because they are less constrained than normal particles. The resummation of self-energies reveals that it is impossible to get too close to the fakeon peak. The related peak uncertainty, equal to the fakeon width divided by 2, is expected to be observable.


Symmetry 2022, 14(3), 521 | DOI: 10.3390/sym14030521

arXiv: 2203.02516 [hep-th]

We study the resummation of self-energy diagrams into dressed propagators in the case of purely virtual particles and compare the results with those obtained for physical particles and ghosts. The three geometric series differ by infinitely many contact terms, which do not admit well-defined sums. The peak region, which is outside the convergence domain, can only be reached in the case of physical particles, thanks to analyticity. In the other cases, nonperturbative effects become important. To clarify the matter, we introduce the energy resolution $\Delta E$ around the peak and argue that a “peak uncertainty” $\Delta E\gtrsim \Delta E_{\text{min}}\simeq \Gamma _{\text{f}}/2$ around energies $E\simeq m_{\text{f}}$ expresses the impossibility to approach the fakeon too closely, $m_{\text{f}}$ being the fakeon mass and $\Gamma _{\text{f}}$ being the fakeon width. The introduction of $\Delta E$ is also crucial to explain the observation of unstable long-lived particles, like the muon. Indeed, by the common energy-time uncertainty relation, such particles are also affected by ill-defined sums at $\Delta E=0$, whenever we separate their observation from the observation of their decay products. We study the regime of large $\Gamma _{\text{f}}$, which applies to collider physics (and situations like the one of the $Z$ boson), and the regime of small $\Gamma _{\text{f}}$, which applies to quantum gravity (and situations like the one of the muon).


to appear in J. High Energy Phys.

arXiv: 2201.00832 [hep-ph]

Talk given at Penn State University, Dec 17, 2019

A new quantization prescription is able to endow quantum field theory with a new type of “particle”, the fakeon (fake particle), which mediates interactions, but cannot be observed. A massive fakeon of spin 2 (together with a scalar field) allows us to build a theory of quantum gravity that is both renormalizable and unitary, and to some extent unique. The theory predicts that causality is lost at sufficiently small distances, where time makes no longer sense. After presenting the general formulation of the theory, I explain its nontrivial classical limit, the modifications of the FLRW metric and the role of the cosmological constant. Finally, I discuss the possibility that the Higgs boson might be a fakeon.


Talk given at the conference “Quantum Gravity and Quantum Geometry“, Nijmegen Oct 29 – Nov 1, 2019

A new quantization prescription is able to endow quantum field theory with a new type of “particle”, the fakeon (fake particle), which mediates interactions, but cannot be observed. A massive fakeon of spin 2 (together with a scalar field) allows us to build a theory of quantum gravity that is both renormalizable and unitary, and to some extent unique. The theory predicts that causality is lost at sufficiently small distances, where time makes no longer sense. After formulating the theory, I explain its main properties. In particular: the nontrivial classical limit, the modifications of the FLRW metric and the roles of the cosmological constant and the Hubble constant.


Several particles are not observed directly, but only through their decay products. We consider the possibility that they might be fakeons, i.e. fake particles, which mediate interactions but are not asymptotic states. A crucial role to determine the true nature of a particle is played by the imaginary parts of the one-loop radiative corrections, which are affected in nontrivial ways by the presence of fakeons in the loop. The knowledge we have today is sufficient to prove that most non directly observed particles are true physical particles. However, in the case of the Higgs boson the possibility that it might be a fakeon remains open. The issue can be resolved by means of precision measurements in existing and future accelerators.


Mod. Phys. Lett. A 34 (2019) 1950123 | DOI: 10.1142/S0217732319501232

arXiv: 1811.02600 [hep-ph]

OSF preprints | DOI: 10.31219/

Philpapers ANSOTN-3

Preprints 2019, 2019110315


We prove the Adler-Bardeen theorem in a large class of general gauge theories, including nonrenormalizable ones. We assume that the gauge symmetries are general covariance, local Lorentz symmetry and Abelian and non-Abelian Yang-Mills symmetries, and that the local functionals of vanishing ghost numbers satisfy a variant of the Kluberg-Stern–Zuber conjecture. We show that if the gauge anomalies are trivial at one loop, for every truncation of the theory there exists a subtraction scheme where they manifestly vanish to all orders, within the truncation. Outside the truncation the cancellation of gauge anomalies can be enforced by fine-tuning local counterterms. The framework of the proof is worked out by combining a recently formulated chiral dimensional regularization with a gauge invariant higher-derivative regularization. If the higher-derivative regularizing terms are placed well beyond the truncation, and the energy scale $\Lambda $ associated with them is kept fixed, the theory is super-renormalizable and has the property that, once the gauge anomalies are canceled at one loop, they manifestly vanish from two loops onwards by simple power counting. When the $\Lambda $ divergences are subtracted away and $\Lambda $ is sent to infinity, the anomaly cancellation survives in a manifest form within the truncation and in a nonmanifest form outside. The standard model coupled to quantum gravity satisfies all the assumptions, so it is free of gauge anomalies to all orders.


Phys. Rev. D 91 (2015) 105016 | DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.91.105016

arXiv: 1501.07014 [hep-th]

We consider renormalizable Standard-Model extensions that violate Lorentz symmetry at high energies, but preserve CPT, and do not contain elementary scalar fields. A Nambu–Jona-Lasinio mechanism gives masses to fermions and gauge bosons, and generates composite Higgs fields at low energies. We study the effective potential at the leading order of the large-$N_{c}$ expansion, prove that there exists a broken phase and study the phase space. In general, the minimum may break invariance under boosts, rotations and CPT, but we give evidence that there exists a Lorentz invariant phase. We study the spectrum of composite bosons and the low-energy theory in the Lorentz phase. Our approach predicts relations among the parameters of the low-energy theory. We find that such relations are compatible with the experimental data, within theoretical errors. We also study the mixing among generations, the emergence of the CKM matrix and neutrino oscillations.


Phys. Rev. D83 (2011) 056005 | DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.83.056005

arXiv:1101.2014 [hep-th]

If Lorentz symmetry is violated at high energies, interactions that are usually non-renormalizable can become renormalizable by weighted power counting. Recently, a CPT invariant, Lorentz violating extension of the Standard Model containing two scalar-two fermion interactions (which can explain neutrino masses) and four fermion interactions (which can explain proton decay) was proposed. In this paper we consider a variant of this model, obtained suppressing the elementary scalar fields, and argue that it can reproduce the known low energy physics. In the Nambu$-$Jona-Lasinio spirit, we show, using a large $N_c$ expansion, that a dynamical symmetry breaking takes place. The effective potential has a Lorentz invariant minimum and the Lorentz violation does not reverberate down to low energies. The mechanism generates fermion masses, gauge-boson masses and scalar bound states, to be identified with composite Higgs bosons. Our approach is not plagued by the ambiguities of approaches based on non-renormalizable vertices. The low-energy effective action is uniquely determined and predicts relations among parameters of the Standard Model.


Eur.Phys.J. C65 (2010) 523-536 | DOI: 10.1140/epjc/s10052-009-1211-z

arXiv:0904.1849 [hep-ph]

In flat space, $\gamma_5$ and the epsilon tensor break the dimensionally continued Lorentz symmetry, but propagators have fully Lorentz invariant denominators. When the Standard Model is coupled with quantum gravity $\gamma_5$ breaks the continued local Lorentz symmetry. I show how to deform the Einstein lagrangian and gauge-fix the residual local Lorentz symmetry so that the propagators of the graviton, the ghosts and the BRST auxiliary fields have fully Lorentz invariant denominators. This makes the calculation of Feynman diagrams more efficient.


Phys. Lett. B 596 (2004) 90 | DOI: 10.1016/j.physletb.2004.06.089


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14B1 D. Anselmi

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

Last update: May 9th 2015, 230 pages

Avaibable on Amazon:


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