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Are shell electrons accompanied by virtual neutrinos?

  1. Aug 4, 2014 #1
    Hi everyone,

    This is my first post. Years ago I read in a science magazine that (at least according to a certain theory) every shell electron would be accompanied by one (or was it two?) virtual neutrino(s). At least that's my recollection of what I read. I know it sounds a little crazy. I was searching for the source of this for hours, even went to a library trying to find it in a heap of magazines... To no avail. Google searches didn't help either.

    Any component of the statement above other than "electron" or "neutrino" could be due to my incorrect recollection, so don't stick to the letter and use a little associative thinking if appropriate.

    Thanks to anybody who can help me with this.

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 4, 2014 #2


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    Welcome to the forum!

    I would say it's not true, at least not in any sense that's useful. Some people like to think of empty space as populated by virtual-particle pairs, and among these would be neutrino-antineutrino pairs, but there's no sense in which an electron is "accompanied" by these specifically.
  4. Aug 5, 2014 #3
    Maybe neutrino-antineutrino pairs could be prevalent in a small enough sized scale (high energy situation)?
  5. Aug 5, 2014 #4


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    at high energy colliders, pair productions and annihilations are common phenomena, but this is unrelated to the "virtual particle pairs" mentioned (what ever this statement initially intended to mean?!).
  6. Aug 6, 2014 #5
    What I mean is this: A particle surrounds itself with a cloud of virtual particles, so I wonder if more virtual neutrino/antineutrino pairs would pop up from the ambient vacuum if the particle was highly energized (like those electrons in certain heavy atoms which reach relativistic velocities).
  7. Aug 6, 2014 #6
    An electron can scatter on a Z boson, right?
    A Z boson can decay into 2 neutrinos, right?

    So there must exist a Feynmann diagram where an electron emits a Z boson, then the boson decays into a neutrino/antineutrino loop, they merge back and then the boson is reabsorbed by the electron.

    The contribution of that diagram will probably be so close to zero that it doesn't change anything.
  8. Aug 11, 2014 #7
    What does it mean, an electron can scatter on a Z boson? What does this have to do with the electron emitting a Z boson? Aren't virtual particles (neutrinos, in the case at hand) just popping in and out from/into the vacuum? Thanks for bearing with me.
  9. Aug 12, 2014 #8


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    Z boson is the mediator for weak interactions. This is how electrons (or other leptons) can interact with neutrinos (which are otherwise neutral).

    Now, why "virtual particles" are in the mix of all this discussion confuses me. The only scenario where a virtual neutrino mediator may arise here is through scattering process like e+e- to ZZ.

    you may have to clarify what do u mean by "virtual neutrinos" in your scenario before one can make much sense of what you are hinting at. My guess is that you may have misread something, because so far it isn't making too much sense. Perhaps "virtual" wasn't the word.
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