Particles vs. events: The concatenated structure of world lines in relativistic quantum mechanics

R. Arshansky, L. P. Horwitz, Y. Lavie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


The dynamical equations of relativistic quantum mechanics prescribe the motion of wave packets for sets of events which trace out the world lines of the interacting particles. Electromagnetic theory suggests that particle world line densities be constructed from concatenation of event wave packets. These sequences are realized in terms of conserved probability currents. We show that these conserved currents provide a consistent particle and antiparticle interpretation for the asymptotic states in scattering processes. The relation between current conservation and unitarity is used to establish relations between pair production and annihilation amplitudes and scattering. The discrete symmetries C, T, P are studied and it is shown that no Dirac sea (for fermions where such a construction is possible, or bosons where it is not) is required for consistency of the theory. These currents, furthermore, represent the discrete symmetries in a way consistent with their interpretation as particle currents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1167-1194
Number of pages28
JournalFoundations of Physics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1983
Externally publishedYes


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