The Quantum Vacuum - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780124980808, 9780080571492

The Quantum Vacuum

1st Edition

An Introduction to Quantum Electrodynamics

Authors: Peter Milonni
eBook ISBN: 9780080571492
Hardcover ISBN: 9780124980808
Paperback ISBN: 9781493301614
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 19th October 1993
Page Count: 522
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In modern physics, the classical vacuum of tranquil nothingness has been replaced by a quantum vacuum with fluctuations of measurable consequence. In The Quantum Vacuum, Peter Milonni describes the concept of the vacuum in quantum physics with an emphasis on quantum electrodynamics. He elucidates in depth and detail the role of the vacuum electromagnetic field in spontaneous emission, the Lamb shift, van der Waals, and Casimir forces, and a variety of other phenomena, some of which are of technological as well as purely scientific importance.
This informative text also provides an introduction based on fundamental vacuum processes to the ideas of relativistic quantum electrodynamics and quantum field theory, including renormalization and Feynman diagrams. Experimental as well as theoreticalaspects of the quantum vacuum are described, and in most cases details of mathematical derivations are included.

Chapter 1 of The Quantum Vacuum - published in advance in The American Journal of Physics (1991)-was later selected by readers as one of the Most Memorable papers ever published in the 60-year history of the journal. This chapter provides anexcellent beginning of the book, introducing a wealth of information of historical interest, the results of which are carefully woven into subsequent chapters to form a coherent whole.

Key Features

  • Does not assume that the reader has taken advanced graduate courses, making the text accessible to beginning graduate students
  • Emphasizes the basic physical ideas rather than the formal, mathematical aspects of the subject
  • Provides a careful and thorough treatment of Casimir and van der Waals forces at a level of detail not found in any other book on this topic
  • Clearly presents mathematical derivations


Physicists and graduate students in academia, libraries; and physicists at national and industrial laboratories

Table of Contents

(Chapter Heading): Zero-Point Energy in Early Quantum Theory. The Electromagnetic Vacuum. Some QED Vacuum Effects. Nonrelativistic Theory of Atoms in Vacuum. Interlude: Radiation Reaction. The Vacuum in Quantum Optics. Casimirand van der Waals Forces: Prelude. Casimir and van der Waals Forces: Elaborations. The Dirac Equation. Introduction to Quantum Field Theory. Self-Energies and Renormalization. Feynman Diagrams. Appendices: Oscillator Equation and Absorption Rate. Force onan Atom in a Thermal Field. Derivation of Equation (2.28). Electric Field of Radiation Reaction. Photodetection and Normal Ordering. Transverse and Longitudinal Delta Functions. Lorentz-Invariant Measure. Index.


No. of pages:
© Academic Press 1994
Academic Press
eBook ISBN:
Hardcover ISBN:
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About the Author

Peter Milonni

Affiliations and Expertise

Los Alamos National Laboratory


"A survey of some of the most important ideas about the always fluctuating quantum vacuum along with a description, based on fundamental vacuum processes, of the physical concepts of quantum electrodynamics." --SCI TECHBOOK NEWS, 1994
"The Quantum Vacuum [is] an informative and very readable introduction to quantum electrodynamics. It is a remarkable idea that a book on this topic should be a 'page turner but I found it difficult to put down....I have not come across a better introduction to this subject than Milonnis text. All serious students of quantum theory will benefit from reading it and I have already recommended it to my students. I am looking forward to finishing working through the later chapters once I get the book back from the aforementioned students!" --JOURNAL OF MODERN OPTICS (1994, vol. 41, no. 5, 1051-1052)