A Caltech Library Service

Ortho-positronium annihilation: steps toward computing the first order radiative corrections


Kauffmann, Steven Kenneth (1973) Ortho-positronium annihilation: steps toward computing the first order radiative corrections. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/HB8D-FV08.


The 0.2% experimental accuracy of the 1968 Beers and Hughes measurement of the annihilation lifetime of ortho-positronium motivates the attempt to compute the first order quantum electrodynamic corrections to this lifetime. The theoretical problems arising in this computation are here studied in detail up to the point of preparing the necessary computer programs and using them to carry out some of the less demanding steps -- but the computation has not yet been completed. Analytic evaluation of the contributing Feynman diagrams is superior to numerical evaluation, and for this process can be carried out with the aid of the Reduce algebra manipulation computer program.

The relation of the positronium decay rate to the electronpositron annihilation-in-flight amplitude is derived in detail, and it is shown that at threshold annihilation-in-flight, Coulomb divergences appear while infrared divergences vanish. The threshold Coulomb divergences in the amplitude cancel against like divergences in the modulating continuum wave function.

Using the lowest order diagrams of electron-positron annihilation into three photons as a test case, various pitfalls of computer algebraic manipulation are discussed along with ways of avoiding them. The computer manipulation of artificial polynomial expressions is preferable to the direct treatment of rational expressions, even though redundant variables may have to be introduced.

Special properties of the contributing Feynman diagrams are discussed, including the need to restore gauge invariance to the sum of the virtual photon-photon scattering box diagrams by means of a finite subtraction.

A systematic approach to the Feynman-Brown method of Decomposition of single loop diagram integrals with spin-related tensor numerators is developed in detail. This approach allows the Feynman-Brown method to be straightforwardly programmed in the Reduce algebra manipulation language.

The fundamental integrals needed in the wake of the application of the Feynman-Brown decomposition are exhibited and the methods which were used to evaluate them -- primarily dis persion techniques are briefly discussed.

Finally, it is pointed out that while the techniques discussed have permitted the computation of a fair number of the simpler integrals and diagrams contributing to the first order correction of the ortho-positronium annihilation rate, further progress with the more complicated diagrams and with the evaluation of traces is heavily contingent on obtaining access to adequate computer time and core capacity.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Physics
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Feynman, Richard Phillips
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:30 April 1973
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:04042014-111059101
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8178
Deposited On:07 Apr 2014 17:39
Last Modified:09 Nov 2022 19:20

Thesis Files

PDF - Final Version
See Usage Policy.


Repository Staff Only: item control page