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We review the current state of knowledge of the nucleon polarizabilities and of their role in nucleon Compton scattering and in hydrogen spectrum. We discuss the basic concepts, the recent lattice QCD calculations and advances in chiral effective-field theory. On the experimental side, we review the ongoing programs aimed to measure the nucleon (scalar and spin) polarizabilities via the Compton scattering processes, with real and virtual photons. A great part of the review is devoted to the general constraints based on unitarity, causality, discrete and continuous symmetries, which result in model-independent relations involving nucleon polarizabilities. We (re-)derive a variety of such relations and discuss their empirical value. The proton polarizability effects are presently the major sources of uncertainty in the assessment of the muonic hydrogen Lamb shift and hyperfine structure. Recent calculations of these effects are reviewed here in the context of the “proton-radius puzzle”. We conclude with summary plots of the recent results and prospects for the near-future work.
Journal: Progress in Particle and Nuclear Physics - Volume 88, May 2016, Pages 29–97