## Unitarity

We study gauge theories and quantum gravity in a finite interval of time $ \tau $, on a compact space manifold $\Omega $. The initial, final and boundary conditions are formulated in gauge invariant and general covariant ways by means of purely virtual extensions of the theories, which allow us to “trivialize” the local symmetries and switch to invariant fields (the invariant metric tensor, invariant quark and gluon fields, etc.). The evolution operator $U(t_{\text{f}},t_{\text{i}})$ is worked out diagrammatically for arbitrary initial and final states, as well as boundary conditions on $\partial \Omega $, and shown to be well-defined and unitary for arbitrary $\tau =t_{\text{f}}-t_{\text{i}}< \infty $. We illustrate the basic properties in Yang-Mills theory on the cylinder.

We study the free and dressed propagators of physical and purely virtual particles in a finite interval of time $τ$ and on a compact space manifold $Ω$, using coherent states. In the free-field limit, the propagators are described by the entire function $(e^{z}-1-z)/z^{2}$, whose shape on the real axis is similar to the one of a Breit-Wigner function, with an effective width around $1/τ$. The real part is positive, in agreement with unitarity, and remains so after including the radiative corrections, which shift the function into the physical half plane. We investigate the effects of the restriction to finite $τ$ on the problem of unstable particles vs resonances, and show that the muon observation emerges from the right physical process, differently from what happens at $τ=\infty $. We also study the case of purely virtual particles, and show that, if $τ$ is small enough, there exists a situation where the geometric series of the self-energies is always convergent. The plots of the dressed propagators show testable differences: while physical particles are characterized by the usual, single peak, purely virtual particles are characterized by twin peaks.

J. High Energ. Phys. 07 (2023) 99 | DOI: 10.1007/JHEP07(2023)099

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

We reconsider the Lee-Wick (LW) models and compare their properties to the properties of the models that contain purely virtual particles. We argue against the LW premise that unstable particles can be removed from the sets of incoming and outgoing states in scattering processes. The removal leads to a non-Hermitian classical limit, besides clashing with the observation of the muon. If, on the other hand, all the states are included, the LW models have a Hamiltonian unbounded from below or negative norms. Purely virtual particles, on the contrary, lead to a Hermitian classical limit and are absent from the sets of incoming and outgoing states without implications on the observation of long-lived unstable particles. We give a *vademecum* to summarize the properties of most options to treat abnormal particles. We study a method to remove the LW ghosts only partially, by saving the physical particles they contain. Specifically, we replace a LW ghost with a certain superposition of a purely virtual particle and an ordinary particle, and drop only the former from the sets of the external states. The trick can be used to make the Pauli-Villars fields consistent and observable, without sending their masses to infinity, or to build a finite QED, by tweaking the original Lee-Wick construction. However, it has issues with general covariance, so it cannot be applied as is to quantum gravity, where a manifestly covariant decomposition requires the introduction of a massive spin-2 multiplet.

Phys. Rev. D 105 (2022) 125017 | DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.105.125017

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).

J. High Energy Phys. 06 (2022) 058 | DOI: 10.1007/JHEP06(2022)058

We prove spectral optical identities in quantum field theories of physical particles (defined by the Feynman $i\epsilon $ prescription) and purely virtual particles (defined by the fakeon prescription). The identities are derived by means of purely algebraic operations and hold for every (multi)threshold separately and for arbitrary frequencies. Their major significance is that they offer a deeper understanding on the problem of unitarity in quantum field theory. In particular, they apply to “skeleton” diagrams, before integrating on the space components of the loop momenta and the phase spaces. In turn, the skeleton diagrams obey a spectral optical theorem, which gives the usual optical theorem for amplitudes, once the integrals on the space components of the loop momenta and the phase spaces are restored. The fakeon

prescription/projection is implemented by dropping the thresholds that involve fakeon frequencies. We give examples at one loop (bubble, triangle, box, pentagon and hexagon), two loops (triangle with “diagonal”, box with diagonal) and arbitrarily many loops. We also derive formulas for the loop integrals with fakeons and relate them to the known formulas for the loop integrals with physical particles.

J. High Energy Phys. 11 (2021) 030 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/JHEP11(2021)030

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.

We give a simple proof of perturbative unitarity in gauge theories and quantum gravity using a special gauge that allows us to separate the physical poles of the free propagators, which are quantized by means of the Feynman prescription, from the poles that belong to the gauge-trivial sector, which are quantized by means of the fakeon prescription. The proof applies to renormalizable theories, including the ultraviolet complete theory of quantum gravity with fakeons formulated recently, as well as low-energy (nonrenormalizable) theories. We clarify a number of subtleties related to the study of scattering processes in the presence of a cosmological constant $\Lambda$. The scattering amplitudes, defined by expanding the metric around flat space, obey the optical theorem up to corrections due to $\Lambda$, which are negligible for all practical purposes. Problems of interpretation would arise if such corrections became important. In passing, we obtain local, unitary (and “almost” renormalizable) theories of massive gravitons and gauge fields, which violate gauge invariance and general covariance explicitly.

J. High Energy Phys. 12 (2019) 027 | DOI: 10.1007/JHEP12(2019)027

Talk given by Marco Piva at the conference “**Avenues of quantum field theory in curved spacetime**“, Modena, Sept 9th, 2019