# Can particles be absorbed into a field?

1. Feb 5, 2016

### friend

I am told that if an electric field is strong enough that it can polarize the vacuum enough to created positrons and electrons. Also, if quarks are separated enough, then the potential energy creates other quarks. My question is can the reverse happen, are particles ever absorbed back into a potential field that created them? I suppose you'd have to have in that field a particle-antiparticle that meet up and annihilate but instead of producing some other particle like a photon that flies off, the energy of their annihilation would be absorbed into the field. Although, I don't remember ever hearing about this kind of absorption. When created by too strong of a field, the particle/antiparticle pair are entangled. But when they randomly come together within the field, having come from different locations and annihilate, they are not entangled, and maybe that implies that they cannot disappear into the field making it stronger; they must produce some other particles that flies off as it would do if it were not in a field. Does anyone have more insight into this?

Last edited: Feb 5, 2016
2. Feb 5, 2016

### Staff: Mentor

As many many threads have explained, some of which you participated in, you have been told wrong:

Just one more (excellent) explanation of what's really going on from John Baez:
https://www.physicsforums.com/insights/struggles-continuum-part-5/
'Each of these diagrams is actually a notation for an integral! There are systematic rules for writing down the integral starting from the Feynman diagram.'

And that is exactly what virtual particles are - lines in a Feyman diagram that are representations of integrals.

Why exactly are you raising this, admittedly common, misconception again? All it will lead to is a similar meandering thread like the above that goes nowhere because the premise is incorrect.

Thanks
Bill

Last edited: Feb 5, 2016
3. Feb 5, 2016

### friend

I don't disagree with you, Bill. I've come to realize that "virtual particles" are just another way of saying, "those little differential effects that are added up in many ways in the path integral." And it's common in many physical descriptions to develop things by first describing what's going on in the differential level and then add them up appropriately. That seems to work in other theories. But I don't know why you are getting on my case here. I didn't even mention the word "virtual particle". Have I become Mr. Virtual Particle guy to you by default? Please try again to answer the question. As I understand it, these positron/electron creation from strong fields are observed effects. Perhaps they are independent of virtual particles. Thanks.

4. Feb 5, 2016

### Staff: Mentor

Polarisation of the vacuum is polarisation of virtual particles.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_polarization
'vacuum polarization describes a process in which a background electromagnetic field produces virtual electron–positron pairs that change the distribution of charges and currents that generated the original electromagnetic field. It is also sometimes referred to as the self energy of the gauge boson (photon).'

Thanks
Bill

5. Feb 5, 2016

### friend

Right, thank you. That much I know. And I'm understanding that this effect has been measured. My question is does it go the other way, particles disappearing back into the field?

6. Feb 5, 2016

### Staff: Mentor

Did you see the key word - VIRTUAL.

They are not particles - they are representations of integrals exactly as John Baez said.

Thanks
Bill

7. Feb 5, 2016

### friend

OK, what about separating quarks until a new pair are created. Is that a virtual process as well? Or are they newly created quarks real? Thanks.

8. Feb 5, 2016

### Staff: Mentor

I suspect its virtual as well, but you need an expert on QCD which I am not.

Thanks
Bill