Can virtual particles have an imaginary mass?

In summary, the conversation discussed the concept of virtual particles and their properties, including their mass, movement, and interaction. The physicist mentioned that virtual particles can have an imaginary mass and do not physically move, while the Casimir effect can be described without them. The conversation also emphasized the importance of reliable sources, rather than relying on hearsay.
  • #1
Lunct
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I was talking to a physicist who said to me that virtual particles can have a mass of a constant times by i ,as in the root of -1. I have been thinking about this more and it intrigues me. I have done some research into this and can't find further details.
If they have an imaginary mass does this mean their Lorentz factor can't be calculated? And if so, can they move faster than light?
 
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  • #4
Lunct said:
I have read that the casimir effect happens due to virtual particles, so then surely they must interact with something.

Casimir effect can be perfectly described without virtual particles. This has been discussed here multiple times, use "search" function. And also, again, I suggest reading links that I gave you. "Virtual particles" is just a name for a certain mathematical formulas that appear in perturbative quantum field theory. They don't exist outside the formalism.
 
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  • #5
Lunct said:
I was talking to a physicist who said to me

You've been here long enough to know this is not an acceptable reference.

Lunct said:
I have read that

Nor is this.

We can spend a lifetime dealing with misheard and misunderstood comments from "I know a guy who knows a guy". But that doesn't mean we should.
 
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  • #6
Vanadium 50 said:
You've been here long enough to know this is not an acceptable reference.
Nor is this.

We can spend a lifetime dealing with misheard and misunderstood comments from "I know a guy who knows a guy". But that doesn't mean we should.
weirdoguy said:
Casimir effect can be perfectly described without virtual particles. This has been discussed here multiple times, use "search" function. And also, again, I suggest reading links that I gave you. "Virtual particles" is just a name for a certain mathematical formulas that appear in perturbative quantum field theory. They don't exist outside the formalism.
fair enough
 
  • #7
Especially post #2 includes all that can be said to this subject, so I close this thread now.
 

Related to Can virtual particles have an imaginary mass?

1. Can virtual particles have an imaginary mass?

Yes, virtual particles can have an imaginary mass. In quantum mechanics, particles can have complex-valued masses, which means they have both a real and an imaginary component. Virtual particles, which are particles that appear and disappear in a vacuum, can also have complex masses.

2. What does it mean for a particle to have an imaginary mass?

A particle having an imaginary mass means that its mass is not a purely real number. This concept comes from the mathematical framework of quantum mechanics, where particles are described using complex numbers. An imaginary mass does not necessarily mean the particle is not real, as virtual particles with imaginary masses still have real effects on physical systems.

3. How do virtual particles with imaginary masses behave?

Virtual particles with imaginary masses behave in a similar way to particles with real masses. They still follow the laws of physics and can interact with other particles. However, their properties, such as spin and charge, may differ from particles with real masses. Additionally, virtual particles with imaginary masses are unstable and quickly disappear back into the vacuum.

4. Can we observe virtual particles with imaginary masses?

No, we cannot directly observe virtual particles with imaginary masses. This is because they exist for a very short period of time and do not interact with our instruments. However, their effects can be observed through their interactions with other particles, such as causing deviations in the behavior of real particles.

5. What is the significance of virtual particles with imaginary masses?

Virtual particles with imaginary masses play a crucial role in our understanding of quantum field theory and the behavior of particles at the subatomic level. They also have practical applications, such as in the prediction of the Casimir effect, which is a force between two parallel plates due to the presence of virtual particles in the vacuum. Additionally, the existence of virtual particles with imaginary masses helps explain certain phenomena, such as the stability of atoms and the behavior of the Higgs field.

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