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34

$$\sin(x) = x-\frac{x^3}{3!} + trigonometric\;fluctuations$$ Above you can see why I don't like the language of "quantum fluctuations" -- what people mean by them is just "terms in perturbation series that we can make classical sense of". Similarly the phrase ... particles pop in and out of existence... Is a yet another naive attempt of describing ...


33

Let me give a second, more technical answer. Observable particles. In QFT, observable (hence real) particles of mass $m$ are conventionally defined as being associated with poles of the S-matrix at energy $E=mc^2$ in the rest frame of the system (Peskin/Schroeder, An introduction to QFT, p.236). If the pole is at a real energy, the mass is real and the ...


19

The reason for many contradictory statements regarding the nature of virtual particles is that they are often invoked for heuristical explanations of phenomena that arise within the framework of quantum field theory. One then tries to justify those explanations by attributing certain properties to virtual particles they do not actually possess. What ...


13

There is only one kind of photon. Indeed, when we describe elementary interactions between two electrons for example, we call the photon "virtual" as opposed to a physical photon that might exist outside of this process. Still, these are the same particles, i.e. excitations of the same fundamental field, as the photons that make up light for example. ...


13

Meson Production A significant contribution to forward, production of pions and other mesons is the knock-on of quark-pairs from the nucleon sea. Reactions like $$ e^- + p \to e^- + \pi^+ + \text{undetected hadronic junk} \,.$$ For one of many more technical set of discussions, see the $f_\pi$ collaboration's papers:1 http://inspirehep.net/record/535171 ...


12

Photons do not exhibit the property of virtual particles, but it is not your reasoning that is faulty, you have simply fallen prey to an imprecise use of terminology. Let me start with my view of the wave/particle duality. Most of the images of "particles" and "waves" comes from a time when we really didn't understand the quantum world, and some ...


12

Here are from wikipedia drawings of the field lines of two magnets in two orientations, like-like, like-unlike . North pole to north pole North pole to south pole. The lines distort but do not intersect. These field lines are solutions of the formal Maxwell differential equations. Differential equations do not give discontinuous solutions, as ...


10

No, the virtual photon is not a particle, since a virtual particle is what one calls the internal lines in a Feynman diagram, and there are no asymptotic particle states associated to these lines, so a virtual particle is not a particle in the usual (or any other rigorous) sense. Therefore, the question is non-sensical because it is not clear what an ...


9

Virtual particles are not real. They come, as I've said in many answers on this site, from a naive interpretation of Feynman diagrams which should not be taken as an actual, exact description of how the physics works. The actual description of an interaction in the quantum field theory is more complicated than "photons are exchanged". In particular, ...


9

Yes there are "virtual" Higgs bosons. A virtual particle isn't really a particle but a ripple / disturbance in a field. So a virtual electron is a ripple in the electron field. A virtual higgs is a ripple in the higgs field. Virtual particles are just a convenient conceptual model for describing field disturbances in terms of particles. Matt Strassler ...


8

Short answer: A virtual particle is not the opposite of a classical particle. While the other answer captures some aspects correctly, there are still a few flaws and inaccuracies which in the following, I will try to set straight. Wave-particle duality Strictly speaking, quantum objects are neither waves or particles. They are entities behaving like ...


8

The space between atoms depends very much on the medium you are talking about. In solids the typical distance between atoms is about the same as the size of the atoms themselves. In everyday gases at room temperature and pressure the distance between molecules is many times their size, and in deep space you can get densities as low as one proton per cubic ...


7

I don't think the particle-anti-particle picture is a very good one to grasp what's going on. Essentially, it's a consequence of zero-point energy. In classical physics, the lowest energy state of a system, it's ground state, is zero. In quantum mechanics, its a non-zero (but very small) value. The easiest way to see how this zero point energy arises is ...


7

The terminology "virtual particle" comes from quantum field theory. Note the third word in QFT, theory. Theory means that it is a mathematical model for calculations which will, if the theory is valid, describe concrete measurements and behaviors of physical reality. The basic building block of QFT is the Feynman diagram: a mathematical prescription that ...


7

Ever since Newton and the use of mathematics in physics, physics can be defined as a discipline where nature is modeled by mathematics. One should have clear in mind what nature means and what mathematics is. Nature we know by measurements and observations. Mathematics is a self consistent discipline with axioms, theorems and statements having absolute ...


6

Virtual particles are not real. Though sounding like a tautology, it is an important one - they are not actual states in the asymptotic Hilbert spaces of a quantum field theory, where particles usually live. They are a name given to internal lines of Feynman diagrams, which, in turn, are mere computational tools in a perturbative approach to QFT. Nothing in ...


6

All observed particles are real particles in the sense that, unlike virtual particles, their properties are verifiable by experiment. In particular, W and Z bosons are real but unstable particles at energies above the energy equivalent of their rest mass. They also arise as unobservable virtual particles in scattering processing exchanging a W or Z boson, ...


6

You have to realize that when we are speaking of photons, we are speaking of elementary particles and their interactions are dominated by quantum mechanics, not classical mechanics, and in addition special relativity is necessary to calculate anything about them. In general, we know about elementary particles because we observe their traces in detectors for ...


6

The idea that the universe is a vacuum flucuation has been around a long time. The first public mention of the idea I know of is from Edward Tryon in 1973, but I bet it had been discussed long before that. Do you have access to old copies of Nature? If so have a look at "Is the Universe a Vacuum Fluctuation?" by Edward Tryon, Nature 246, 396 - 397 (14 ...


6

In the normal usage, real and virtual are not properties of Feynman diagrams themselves, but of the particles depicted in them. The particles corresponding to external lines (attached to at most one vertex only) are real, the others (attached to two vertices) are virtual. A Feynman diagram may be considered as a repetitive part of a bigger diagram. This ...


6

If I understand your question correctly its just a matter of what you are calculating whether you put the external particles on shell or not. If you are, for example, calculating an amplitude to use for a cross section, you'll put the external particles on-shell and it will be what you call a 'real Feynman diagram'. If you are calculating an effective action ...


6

A major difference between real and virtual photons is that virtual particles are not required to have energy and momentum on the "mass shell". That is, virtual photons may have $E^2-p^2 \neq m^2$, while real photons must obey $E^2-p^2=m^2=0$. My memory disagrees with Neuneck (v1): I think that a coherent superposition of real photons is a laser, while ...


5

Virtual particles appear when one wants to calculate cross sections and branching ratios for elementary particle interactions. This is done with the prescription of Feynman diagrams: Feynman Diagram of Electron-Positron Annihilation In the above diagram the external "legs" are real particles with the quantum numbers given in the standard model table, ...


5

First of all, virtual particles are indeed a consequence of the uncertainty principle – without any quotation marks. Virtual particles are those that don't satisfy the correct dispersion relation $$ E = \sqrt{m^2 c^4 +p^2 c^2}$$ because they have a different value of energy by $\Delta E$. For such a "wrong" value of energy, they have to borrow (or lend) ...


5

I cannot answer to all the questions but would like to stress something regarding what the Casimir effect tells us and what it doesn't. If you look at how it is derived for the usual EM interaction, an experimental verification of the standard Casimir effect tells us that: the EM field can have standing waves between two plates and outside them There ...


5

My current understanding is that the physical reality of vacuum fluctuations, particle-antiparticle pairs being created and then annihilating, is disputed. The Casimir effect is often cited as physical evidence but there's a few authors which have come to dispute that the Casimir effect is convincing evidence for the reality of vacuum fluctuations, as they ...


5

Virtual particles refer to actual, nonzero features in the quantum fields of real objects, but they are features that are not particles in many ways so you should not expect anything from their being named "particle". Basically, the idea of virtual particles was invented as a device for when you want to hold on to the particle picture while doing quantum ...


5

The whole point of virtual particles is that they do not obey the on-shell physical laws, they are just computational crutches in Feynman diagrams. You should not take the idea of them being exchanged or "filling the vacuum" too seriously, there is no reality to them (hence the name). The energy-time uncertainty relation is one of the most misused results ...


5

The popular description of Hawking radiation with one a particle from a virtual pair falling in and the other escaping is just a pretty picture, "in another model, the process is a quantum tunneling effect, whereby particle-antiparticle pairs will form from the vacuum, and one will tunnel outside the event horizon." In fact, one does not even need the first ...



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