MPP Colloquium

The Origins of the Bootstrap

by Dr Alexander Blum (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science)

In this talk, I will reconstruct the origins of the idea of „bootstrap“ in the late 1950/early 1960s work of Geoffrey Chew and Stanley Mandelstam. I will give an introduction to the general context, Chew’s program of replacing field theory with a „pure“ S-Matrix theory, its motivations and methods. I will then show how, in this context, it became possible to conceive of an interaction that generated the very particle whose exchange had given place to the interaction in the first place, a concept that Chew called bootstrap. I will then give a brief outlook on the bootstrap’s further development, how it became associated more with certain methods for calculating scattering amplitudes, and less with Chew’s radical vision of a world without truly elementary particles. This is joint work with Jens Salomon.