Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Confusion over "Polymer"

When I wrote yesterday's post about the confusion in the general public on the term "vinyl", I thought it would be a stand-alone topic. But late yesterday I found an article that is forcing a followup. Only in this case, the confusion is not in the general public, but with theoretical physicists. And in this case, the word is "polymer". As in the title of this paper: "Polymer Quantization on the Half-Line". Here's the abstract:
"We investigate polymer quantization on the half-line, constructing a one-parameter family of polymer Hamiltonians that are analogous to the Robin family of continuum boundary conditions for the half-line Schrodinger Hamiltonian. Applications include the free particle, the attractive Coulomb potential, the scale invariant potential and a black hole described in terms of Einstein-Rosen wormhole throat dynamics. The spectrum is analyzed by a combination of analytic and numerical techniques. In the continuum limit, the full Robin family of boundary conditions can be recovered via a suitable fine-tuning but the Dirichlet-type boundary condition emerges as generic."
"...a blackhole described in terms of Einstein-Rosen wormhold throat dynamics"? Not exactly the polymer science that I am aware of, although I bet you get an incredible extensional flowfield going into a blackhole. If any one can explain this use of "polymer" to me, I'd love to hear it, but I'm not holding my breath. I've sent the first author an email and will see if I get a response.