Use for computational-device notional particles which are not observable in the lab, such as "off-the-mass-shell" particles, "spurions", renormalons, merons. Do *not* use for unobserved hypothetical particles such as the graviton, or Goldstone bosons which could have been observable, but got ...

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

31
votes
5answers
5k views

What physical evidence is there that subatomic particles pop in and out of existence?

What physical evidence shows that subatomic particles pop in and out of existence?
30
votes
4answers
2k views

Why do many people say that virtual particles do not conserve energy?

I've seen this claim made all over the Internet. It's on Wikipedia. It's in John Baez's FAQ on virtual particles, it's in many popular books. I've even seen it mentioned offhand in academic papers. ...
27
votes
3answers
7k views

Are W & Z bosons virtual or not?

W and Z bosons are observed/discovered. But as force carrying bosons they should be virtual particles, unobservable? And also they require to have mass, but if they are virtual they may be off-shell, ...
21
votes
3answers
5k views

The exchange of photons gives rise to the electromagnetic force

Pardon me for my stubborn classical/semiclassical brain. But I bet I am not the only one finding such description confusing. If EM force is caused by the exchange of photons, does that mean only when ...
18
votes
2answers
3k views

Virtual photon description of B and E fields

I continue to find it amazing that something as “bulky” and macroscopic as a static magnetic or electric field is actually a manifestation of virtual photons. So putting on your QFT spectacles, look ...
14
votes
8answers
11k views

Can the magnetic lines of force of two or more magnets intersect each other?

Basic property of magnetic lines of force is that, they can never intersect each other. Among the two points given below, which one is correct? Magnetic lines of force of same magnet can't intersect ...
13
votes
1answer
544 views

How is it possible the speed of light is not constant?

I was reading this article recently, which summarizes a couple of new studies into the speed of light. In one paper, Marcel Urban from the University of Paris-Sud, located in Orsay, France and his ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

Do virtual particles actually physically exist?

I have heard virtual particles pop in and out of existence all the time, most notable being the pairs that pop out beside black holes and while one gets pulled away. But wouldn't this actually violate ...
12
votes
3answers
957 views

What really goes on in a vacuum?

I've been told that a vacuum isn't actually empty space, rather that it consists of antiparticle pairs spontaneously materialising then quickly annihilating, which leads me to a few questions. ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

Virtual particles and physical laws

Recently, I was reading about Hawking Radiation in A Brief History of Time. It says that at no point can all the fields be zero and so there's nothing like empty space(quantum fluctuation etc.). Now, ...
11
votes
3answers
512 views

Does radio use virtual photons?

In radio communication each accelerated electron in the transmitter antenna interacts with an electron in the receiver antenna by exchanging a photon. Is that photon always a virtual photon as ...
9
votes
2answers
3k views

Is there a “difference” between photons that act as virtual particles and photons that act as the quanta of EM radiation?

I) I know that virtual-photons are known to be the force-carriers for the Electromagnetic force, and that they are called "virtual" because the Energy-Time-inequality version of the Heisenberg ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

What's the relation between virtual photons and electromagnetic potentials?

Given that: 1) virtual photons mediate the electric and magnetic force fields 2) the magnetic field is the curl of the magnetic vector potential 3) the electric field is the negative gradient of ...
9
votes
4answers
783 views

Can virtual particles be 'boosted' into becoming real particles by fields other than gravity?

On the wikipedia page for Hawking Radiation it states: Physical insight into the process may be gained by imagining that particle-antiparticle radiation is emitted from just beyond the event ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Is the force carrier of the magnetism in a common household magnet a photon?

As I have understood it, the Standard Model includes particles that carry the different forces, e.g. the electromagnetic (EM) force, the gravitational (G) force. When talking about EM fields such as ...
8
votes
2answers
4k views

Virtual photons, what makes them virtual?

The wikipedia page "Force Carrier" says: The electromagnetic force can be described by the exchange of virtual photons. The virtual photon thing baffles me a little. I get that virtual particles ...
8
votes
5answers
7k views

What are electromagnetic fields made of?

I am trying to understand electromagnetic fields so I have two question related to them. What is a electromagnetic field made of? Is it made of photons / virtual photons? How about a static electric ...
8
votes
2answers
402 views

Do virtual photons have a frequency?

Real photons do have frequencies, which is directly related to its energy. So, can virtual photons that take part in EM interactions have frequencies too? When my hand is pressed up against a glass ...
7
votes
3answers
885 views

What makes a Feynman diagram real or virtual?

Simple question: as the title says, what makes a real Feynman diagram real, and what makes a virtual diagram virtual? Or in other words, how do I tell whether any given diagram is real or virtual? ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Why does Hawking radiation cause black holes to die? [duplicate]

If a particle is being expelled from a black hole and an antiparticle is being driven into it, shouldn't the opposite occur as well and in the same frequencies? I mean, black holes should emit ...
7
votes
2answers
4k views

Do permanent magnets emit virtual photons?

Is the magnetic field propagated by photons or by virtual photons? If it is by photons, then doesn't that mean that magnets lose energy and eventually become non magnets?
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Why aren't all photons virtual particles even in the “vacuum” of empty space? [duplicate]

I'm thoroughly confused about the nature of electromagnetic radiation. Light is supposed to exhibit both wave and particle characteristics. But does that mean that it is both a wave and a particle or ...
6
votes
2answers
471 views

Virtual photon counting

How to calculate number of exchanged virtual photons per unit of time between two electromagnetically interacting objects?
6
votes
2answers
264 views

Are black holes eternal?

The question might sound very easy - Hawking radiation, however I was pondering that as you get closer and closer to a black hole, time dilates exponentially where the surface of the black hole is ...
6
votes
2answers
5k views

How many photons can an electron absorb and why?

How many photons can an electron absorb and why? Can all fundamental particles that can absorb photons absorb the same amount of photons and why? If we increase the velocity of a fundamental ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

How do we distinguish between virtual particle exchange and particle decay?

The difference between virtual particles and unstable particles is discussed at length in this question (namely, virtual particles correspond to internal lines in Feynman diagrams and are not ...
6
votes
1answer
361 views

Quantum Electrodynamics

I was wondering if anyone could give a simple explanation of how light interacts with matter. From what I have read in QED, electrons will repel each other because of their ability to emit and ...
5
votes
5answers
6k views

What is meant by “Nothing” in Physics/Quantum Physics?

I am not a phycisist, so please forgive my ignorance. This is related to my posts and this. I am trying to understand what is meant by the term "Nothing" in physics or Quantum Field Theory (QFT) since ...
5
votes
2answers
868 views

Deriving the Coulomb force equation from the idea of photon exchange?

Since Newton's law of gravitation can be gotten out of Einstein's field equatons as an approximation, I was wondering whether the same applies for the electromagnetic force being the exchange of ...
5
votes
1answer
351 views

In QED, why is the $e^- + e^+\leftrightarrow\gamma$ process forbidden on-shell?

QED has a vertex that couples a single photon to two fermions. This vertex describes the annihilation of an electron-positron pair into a photon. Why is this process forbidden for all three particles ...
5
votes
3answers
726 views

Virtual Higgs boson?

Can particles emit a virtual Higgs boson in a similar manner to the way a virtual photon is emitted?
5
votes
1answer
552 views

Energy conservation of Virtual Particles - Quantum Fluctuation?

I (as a middle-school student) was wondering how virtual particles even conserve energy of the entire system? I don't mean just the particle's energy, but conservation with respect to the ...
5
votes
1answer
117 views

Which assumption is less plausible, “action at a distance”, or that “virtual particles” can exist for a short time?

It is understood that virtual particle appear in Feynman diagrams as a tool of calculus. And it is understood that they are problematic about their mass, and cannot be detected (is that sure indeed?). ...
5
votes
1answer
5k views

What force particle mediates electric fields and magnetic fields?

The force carrier for magnetic fields and electric fields are supposedly photons. I don't get it: 1) Wouldn't that mean that a charged particle (e.g. an electron or even a polarized H2O molecule) ...
5
votes
2answers
18k views

What exists in the Space between quarks

Apologies to all if this has been asked before, I searched but was unable to find one similar. This is a question that has been bugging me for a while that i haven't really been able to find a ...
5
votes
1answer
784 views

The nature of time, according to quantum field theory

I will try my best to ask the question that best fits something I have been pondering on for a few days. Are virtual particles really constantly popping in and out of existence? Or are they ...
4
votes
3answers
352 views

Could future experiments on “Gravitational Casimir Effect” confirm the existence of gravitons?

From Casimir effect, we know that when two plates are placed very close to each other in vacuum, they attract each other because the quantum fluctuations that press on the two plates' outer surfaces ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the physical process (if any) behind magnetic attraction?

I understand that the electromagnetic force can be described as the exchange of virtual photons. I also understand that it's possible for virtual photons, unlike their real counterparts, to have mass ...
4
votes
2answers
886 views

Some questions about virtual particles

When reading about quantum mechanics, I've stumbled upon a description of the force between two electrons as a result of virtual particles being "exchanged" by the two electrons. So far I've ...
4
votes
1answer
93 views

What happens to the planck distribution if the temperature is set to zero?

BE Problem I am currently working on modelling the density of states and optical conductivity of graphene utilizing the GW algorithm. In calculating the exchange self energy of the system, the ...
4
votes
1answer
475 views

If virtual particles have negative mass why do they contribute positive mass to atoms?

According to Lawrence Krauss, atoms containing in our body consists of merely 10% (if I remember correctly) of our total mass. The rest come from virtual particles popping in and out of existence from ...
4
votes
1answer
196 views

If a photon's emission is detected is it real or virtual?

I understand that one can measure a single photon being absorbed using a photomultiplier tube or CCD. Can one measure a single photon being emitted by monitoring the current through an LED or the ...
4
votes
1answer
86 views

If a particle travelled in a closed timelike curve, would it look like a virtual particle-antiparticle pair?

In Feynman's single-electron hypothesis, he reaches the conclusion that a particle travelling backwards in time will look like its antiparticle. So if we have a particle travelling a closed time-like ...
4
votes
1answer
222 views

Electromagnetic Field VS Photons [duplicate]

I am currently studying electrodynamics with all the fields and the like. Now, as I understand it, in a more modern viewpoint there is a duality between electromagnetic fields and photons, with ...
4
votes
1answer
440 views

Coulomb interaction as virtual particles exchange?

I've been reading about virtual particle exchanges in physics books and in Physics SA posts, where a particle interpretation of gravity and Coulomb interaction is established. The Feynman Diagram ...
4
votes
2answers
187 views

Will the increasing rate of expansion of the universe eventually result in Hawking Radiation suddenly occurring everywhere?

The universe is expanding at an ever increasing rate. Virtual particles are being created and then destroyed everywhere at every moment. As space expands even faster, will a time come when these ...
4
votes
2answers
196 views

On-shellness of photons

In principle, we could describe all physics without EM fields (or photons), as they are mainly a useful tool to describe "action at distance" (which does not mean instantaneous) between charged ...
4
votes
1answer
516 views

Gravitational redshift of virtual photons

There is well known gravitational redshift of real photons. What about gravitational redshift of virtual photons of charged neutron star? Is electrostatic force become weaker while mass of ...
4
votes
0answers
124 views

At what expansion rate (H) would virtual particles be ripped apart into real particles, and what might be the density (temperature) of such an event?

Is it even possible for a virtual particle-antiparticle pair to be torn apart by cosmological expansion? Virtual particle-antiparticle pairs are ripped apart near black hole event horizons, creating ...
3
votes
3answers
749 views

The virtual particles are only a fictive tool in equations? DO they exist or DON'T? And if they exist, why do we call them VIRTUAL?

There is no "action at a distance" in nature. Attraction of a piece of iron by a magnet, attraction between distant electric charges of opposite sign, have to be mediated by something. The virtual ...