The classical radiation reaction problem

Date: Oct. 30, 2019 Speaker: Michael Kiessling Abstract: Physics folklore says that a classical point charge, when accelerated by some electromagnetic field, produces electromagnetic radiation through which it loses energy and momentum to the field degrees of freedom. Many physicists…

The classical radiation reaction problem

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Date: Oct. 30, 2019
Speaker: Michael Kiessling
Abstract: Physics folklore says that a classical point charge, when accelerated by some electromagnetic field, produces electromagnetic radiation through which it loses energy and momentum to the field degrees of freedom. Many physicists (in particular: Abraham, Lorentz, Dirac, Landau and Lifshitz, …) tried to compute the associated `radiation-reaction’ force on the point charge. Alas, all proposals so far failed the litmus test: their fomulas produce a vanishing radiation-reaction when a point charge is accelerated by a uniform electric field (such as occurs between the plates of a charged capacitor). Recently I combined ideas of Poincare’ and of Bopp, Lande’-Thomas, and Podolsky, and managed to compute the exact expression for the radiation-reaction force in a classical electrodynamics model. Jointly with Shadi Tahvildar-Zadeh we also proved local well-posedness of the joint initial-value problem for fields and point charges. Since the self-force expression is very complicated, MAPLE was then used to study the motion of a point charge accelerated by a constant electric field. Radiation-reaction effects showed very clearly and dramatically: unexpectedly, a dynamical phase transition was found. Subsequently a proof of this dynamical scenario was supplied. I will explain all this without getting into the nitty-gritty of the technical details.

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