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 (for various complicated reasons.)
I'm quite new to all this, so I'm finding it hard to believe that photon exchange is powerful enough to move macroscopic objects (or hold up a train), so I'm convinced I'm looking at it the wrong way.
- Are the virtual photons just a useful way to imagine what's actually happening, or are actual photons being exchanged?
- Can the force applied to magnetically attracted/repelled macroscopic objects be described purely in the QED sense of virtual particle exchange, or is it the result of something else we can point to, or is it voodoo from the metaphorical aether?
- Can force simply be spontaneously created by a field interacting with objects within it (as far as I can tell that's not what fields are/do)
And very generally:
- Where does the force to move macroscopic objects originate (at the most fundamental level)?