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A new anomaly: the electromagnetic duality anomaly

20 Sep 2016, 14:38 UTC
A new anomaly: the electromagnetic duality anomaly
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Article: Electromagnetic duality anomaly in curved spacetimes
Authors: I. Agullo, A. del Rio and J. Navarro-Salas
Reference: arXiv:1607.08879
Disclaimer: this blogpost requires some basic knowledge of QFT (or being comfortable with taking my word at face value for some of the claims made :))
Anomalies exists everywhere. Probably the most intriguing ones are medical, but in particle physics they can be pretty fascinating too. In physics, anomalies refer to the breaking of a symmetry. There are basically two types of anomalies:

The first type, gauge anomalies, are red-flags: if they show up in your theory, they indicate that the theory is mathematically inconsistent.
The second type of anomaly does not signal any problems with the theory and in fact can have experimentally observable consequences. A prime example is the chiral anomaly. This anomaly nicely explains the decay rate of the neutral pion into two photons.Fig. 1: Illustration of pion decay into two photons. [Credit: Wikimedia Commons]

In this paper, a new anomaly is discussed. This anomaly is related to the polarization of light and is called the electromagnetic duality anomaly.
Chiral anomaly 101
So let’s first brush up on the basics of the chiral anomaly. How does this ...

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