On the electromagnetic interaction in relativistic quantum mechanics

L. P. Horwitz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A fundamental problem in the construction of local electromagnetic interactions in the framework of relativistic wave equations of Klein-Gordon or Dirac type is discussed, and shown to be resolved in a relativistic quantum theory of events described by functions in a Hilbert space on the manifold of space-time. The relation, abstracted from the structure of the electromagnetic current, between sequences of events, parametrized by an evolution parameter τ ("historical time"), and the commonly accepted notion of particles is reviewed. As an illustration of these ideas, a perturbative calculation is made for photon emission from a charged two-body system in which the electromagnetic field is quantized in the usual way. The result is in essential agreement with calculations in which the charged particles are treated in the framework of nonrelativistic quantum mechanics, and provides them with a relativistic interpretation. In particular, we obtain a relativistically invariant form of the Bohr radiation condition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1027-1046
Number of pages20
JournalFoundations of Physics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1984


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