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Are field quanta real?

  1. Dec 28, 2012 #1
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 28, 2012 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    It's not so much that you're missing something, as that you're looking for something that's not there. Quantum mechanics will tell you how real things really behave in the real world. It will not pretend to tell you what's real and what's not, and it won't tell you anything about things whose behavior you cannot directly or indirectly observe. You aren't the first person to be exasperated by this aspect of QM and you aren't going to be the last.

    You might want to search around for the "Minimal Statistical Interpretation" - try Google, and look for some of VanHees71's posts here. You'll probably find it to be unsatisfying (but the universe is under no obligation to satisfy you about much of anything); but it will tell you what sorts of questions you can expect QM to answer for you.
  4. Dec 29, 2012 #3


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    Science Advisor

    are field quanta in quantum field theory real
    What it says is that there are states in which the number of quanta present is not well-defined. This does not mean they fail to be real. He immediately goes on to compare this situation to states in which the momentum is not well-defined, which does not mean that momentum fails to be real either!
  5. Dec 31, 2012 #4
    Does this mean there is a big, unfillable gap in our knowledge here, then, or what?
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