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Strong dissipative behavior in quantum field theory

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Original languageEnglish
Article number123508
JournalPhysical Review D
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 1998


We study the conditions under which an overdamped regime can be attained in the dynamic evolution of a quantum field configuration. Using a real-time formulation of finite temperature field theory, we compute the effective evolution equation of a scalar field configuration, quadratically interacting with a given set of other scalar fields. We then show that, in the overdamped regime, the dissipative kernel in the field equation of motion is closely related to the shear viscosity coefficient, as computed in scalar field theory at finite temperature. The effective dynamics is equivalent to a time-dependent Ginzburg-Landau description of the approach to equilibrium in phenomenological theories of phase transitions. Applications of our results, including a recently proposed inflationary scenario called "warm inflation," are discussed.

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