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Physical Review D - Particles, Fields, Gravitation, and Cosmology


The zero-temperature effective equation of motion is derived for a scalar field interacting with other fields. For a broad range of cases, involving interaction with as few as one or two fields, dissipative regimes are found for the scalar field system. The zero-temperature limit constitutes a baseline effect that will be prevalent in any general statistical state. Thus, the results found here provide strong evidence that dissipation is the norm not the exception for an interacting scalar field system. For application to inflationary cosmology, this provides convincing evidence that warm inflation could be a natural dynamics once proper treatment of the interactions is done. The results found here also may have applicability to entropy production during the chiral phase transition in heavy-ion collision.