Bosons as Particles

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

I've never been able to get my head around the idea that forces are particles. In the case of fermions, a particle seems to be a natural concept. Even though it's really a wave, or an excitation in a quantum field, I can envision it as being something in a particular place. For bosons that doesn't seem to work.

Take for instance a proton, electron, and photon. Photons are causing the proton and electron to be attracted to each other continuously over a period of time. How does a particle do that? Is it a single photon or many? Where is it located relative to the proton and electron? If anyone can explain what I'm missing, I'd be grateful.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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I've never been able to get my head around the idea that forces are particles.
They are not. Interactions can be described as exchange of virtual particles but this is purely a tool in calculations. Virtual particles are not actual objects flying around.
 
  • #3
I'm afraid that doesn't clear it up for me. I still wonder how bosons sustain forces over time. Also, if they are not particles why are they always referred to as such, and pointed to in these graphs of particles that are seen after a collision in an accelerator? Another example is the Higgs boson, which when discovered appeared as a specific dot on a graph.
 
  • #4
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I still wonder how bosons sustain forces over time.
See above: They don't. The fields do.
Also, if they are not particles why are they always referred to as such, and pointed to in these graphs of particles that are seen after a collision in an accelerator?
You can have real particles but that is a different situation. That is not what you have e.g. in an electron around a nucleus.
Another example is the Higgs boson, which when discovered appeared as a specific dot on a graph.
I'm not sure which dot and which graph you mean.
The Higgs bosons measured at the LHC are real particles.
 
  • #5
I am not well versed in real versus virtual particles and don't know why the real particles are a "different situation." What was the original situation? Perhaps you could recommend some reading that would cover this ground.

Thanks
 
  • #6
PeroK
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I am not well versed in real versus virtual particles and don't know why the real particles are a "different situation." What was the original situation? Perhaps you could recommend some reading that would cover this ground.

Thanks
What level of physics knowledge do you already have?
 
  • #7
I've never been able to get my head around the idea that forces are particles. In the case of fermions, a particle seems to be a natural concept.
It's not necessarily "natural", it feels that way because you heard about electrons and protons since early school. In everyday experience, we never perceive electrons and protons, they are way too small.

(Likewise, Earth being a globe and Earth orbiting the Sun feels natural _to us today_, but in fact it's very non-obvious for a casual observer, and centuries ago people had significant difficulties convincing everybody that it's true).

IOW: your different feel to bosons and fermions being particles is psychological.
 

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