Time and Fermions: General Covariance vs. Ockham's Razor for Spinors

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Proceedings of the 4th Conference on Time and Matter - TAM 2013, ISSN: 9789-616311793, Page: 185-198

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Pitts, J. Brian
University of Nova Gorica Press
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article description
It is a commonplace in the foundations of physics, attributed to Kretschmann, that any local physical theory can be represented using arbitrary coordinates, simply by using tensor calculus. On the other hand, the physics and mathematics literature often claims that spinors \emph{as such} cannot be represented in coordinates in a curved space-time. These commonplaces are inconsistent. What general covariance means for theories with fermions is thus unclear. In fact both commonplaces are wrong. Though it is not widely known, Ogievetsky and Polubarinov (OP) constructed spinors in coordinates in 1965, enhancing the unity of physics and helping to spawn particle physicists' concept of nonlinear group representations. Roughly and locally, OP spinors resemble the orthonormal basis or tetrad formalism in the symmetric gauge, but they are conceptually self-sufficient and more economical. The typical tetrad formalism is thus de-Ockhamized, with six extra field components and six compensating gauge symmetries to cancel them out. As developed nonperturbatively by Bilyalov, OP spinors admit any coordinates at a point, but `time' must be listed first; `time' is defined in terms of an eigenvalue problem involving the metric components and the matrix $diag(-1,1,1,1)$, the product of which must have no negative eigenvalues. Thus even formal general covariance requires reconsideration; the atlas of admissible coordinate charts should be sensitive to the types and \emph{values} of the fields involved. Apart from coordinate order and the usual spinorial two-valuedness, (densitized) Ogievetsky-Polubarinov spinors form, with the (conformal part of the) metric, a nonlinear geometric object. Important results on Lie and covariant differentiation are recalled and applied. The rather mild consequences of the coordinate order restriction are explored in two examples: the question of the conventionality of simultaneity in Special Relativity, and the Schwarzschild solution in General Relativity.