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Nov30-10, 04:39 PM
P: 3,035
Quote Quote by jtbell View Post
There are virtual W and Z bosons, which mediate low-energy weak interactions like nuclear beta decay, and real W and Z bosons, which can be produced in accelerators with enough energy. The difference is exactly like between virtual and real photons.
This could be confusing for newcomers, the fact that the gauge bosons come in real and virtual versions, for instance the W boson is defined in the wikipedia as the particle that as well as the Z boson mediaes the weak force, so the doubt arises as to wether is referring to the virtual W or the real boson W and when it describes its basic properties it states that "in practice it can be considered to be a virtual particle". So I would like to ask the experts which are the force mediators the virtual gauge bosons or the "real" ones because often it's not very clearly defined. In case the mediators are virtual bosons, what is the role of the real particles? In the case of the photons it's obvious they are the EM radiation , but what about the W and Z particles? ( I believe the gluon hasn't been found yet)
Also I read the mean-life of the W and Z bosons it's around 10E-25 seconds so I guess they can't be directly detected , and were discovered by indirect means, can someone explain in lay terms how? Thanks