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Sometimes when people debate what type of cause a universe with a beginning may have Virtual Particles has been used as an example of a thing that can arise without a cause.

So my question would be what exactly is a virtual particle and do they really pop in and out of existence without a cause?

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marked as duplicate by jinawee, Neuneck, DavePhD, Kyle Kanos, Danu Jun 5 '14 at 14:25

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  • $\begingroup$ In most cases, is easier to think them as a mathematical tool. $\endgroup$ – jinawee Jun 5 '14 at 7:55
  • $\begingroup$ See this article by Matt Strassler. Virtual particles are more of a mathematical device than a particle. $\endgroup$ – John Rennie Jun 5 '14 at 8:19
  • $\begingroup$ See also this, INCREDIBLY LONG but interesting, thread on another forum (includes answers by multiple Nobel Prize laureates (!) as well as significant contributions by A. Neumaier, who is also active on physics.SE): physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=460685 $\endgroup$ – Danu Jun 5 '14 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ Closely related: physics.stackexchange.com/q/4349 $\endgroup$ – Danu Jun 5 '14 at 14:23