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According to our best theories of physics, the fundamental building blocks of matter are not particles, but continuous fluid-like substances known as 'quantum fields'. David Tong explains what we know about these fields, and how they fit into our understanding of the Universe. David Tong is a professor of theoretical physics at Cambridge University, specialising in quantum field theory. Quantum Field Theory (QFT) is the mathematical and conceptual framework for contemporary elementary particle physics. In a rather informal sense QFT is the extension of quantum mechanics (QM), dealing with particles, over to fields, i.e. systems with an infinite number of degrees of freedom. (See the entry on quantum mechanics.) In the last few years QFT has become a more widely discussed topic in philosophy of science, with questions ranging from methodology and semantics to ontology. QFT taken seriously in its metaphysical implications seems to give a picture of the world which is at variance with central classical conceptions of particles and fields, and even with some features of QM.

Quantum Fields: The Real Building Blocks of the Universe - with David Tong