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Do vacuum fluctuations contribute to vacuum polarization

  1. Nov 20, 2005 #1
    My question is, if only from a real particle emitted and absorbed virtual photons that make vacuum-polarzation (decay in virtual e-e+) do contribute to the shielding of this real particle.

    Or can also vacuum fluctuations that pop in and out of existence contribute to the shielding of the charge of a real particle (I mean vacuum fluctations that are independently there wheter a real particle is there or not)?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 20, 2005 #2
    Vacuum fluctuations are independent of the presence of any particle. They are a property of the vacuum, that is all.

    YES, they contribute to the vacuum polarization. As a matter of fact, this polarization is defined based upon these fluctuations. For example in the case of the EM-interaction, mediated by virtual photons, this polarization is defined as the self energy of the photon-propagator. Thus, the vacuum is replaced by a dielectric (ie the vacuum polarization) that influences the EM going on. More specifically, the "virtual dipoles" (virtual particle:anti particle pairs) will align themselves with the electric fields in order to reduce the potential energy of the system

  4. Nov 20, 2005 #3
    Thanks. That is all I wanted to know. I see, marlon, with you the master of theoretical physics is back.
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