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Jan2-12, 03:36 PM
P: 5,632
Virtual Particles

In addition to the reference mentioned above:

Virtual particles are theoretical and have never been observed [not experimentally verified].
For some reason I haven't figured out, people think virtual photons play a part in near field antenna radiation.

Here is a closely realated article:

I'll excerpt just a few key ideas:

Vacuum energy is an underlying background energy that exists in space even when the space is devoid of matter (free space). The concept of vacuum energy has been deduced from the concept of virtual particles, which is itself derived from the energy-time uncertainty principle.......Vacuum energy can also be thought of in terms of virtual particles (also known as vacuum fluctuations) which are created and destroyed out of the vacuum. These particles are always created out of the vacuum in particle-antiparticle pairs, which shortly annihilate each other and disappear. However, these particles and antiparticles may interact with others before disappearing, a process which can be mapped using Feynman diagrams. (but these virtual particles are not observable) ....the Casimir effect is no certain proof for vacuum energy since it can also be explained without this theory.[4]

Other predictions are harder to verify. Vacuum fluctuations are always created as particle/antiparticle pairs. The creation of these virtual particles near the event horizon of a black hole has been hypothesized by physicist Stephen Hawking to be a mechanism for the eventual "evaporation" of black holes.

...Hawking Radiation from another source.....(also not directly observable)
(I know Wikipedia also discusses Hawking Radiation)

Hawking's mathematical development of Hawking Radiation does not explicitly involve virtual particles; he used virtual particles as an intuitive description of how radiation might originate.