1. What exactly is the difference between real and virtual particles?
  2. Are virtual particles just fluctuations in their quantum field?
  3. If so, how is that different to real particles?
  • $\begingroup$ I think the best way to understand this is to get as far as doing some simple example calculations in quantum field theory. But since you are asking this question, I assume you are not ready for that. The virtual particle can be seen as a helpful way to keep track of the terms that have to be included in the integrals for treating particle interactions. The difference from real particles is that their energy is less than the associated rest energy, and consequently their de Broglie wave decays exponentially as it travels. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Steane Nov 1 '18 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ See physics.stackexchange.com/q/372024/133418 $\endgroup$ – Avantgarde Nov 1 '18 at 21:15

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