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Exchange particles

  1. Jan 16, 2015 #1
    I really want to understand the answer to this question.
    Q: What is an exchange particle?
    A: A virtual particle that lets force act between particles in an interaction.
    This answer was given in my A-Level textbook but I can't for the life of me decode what it means. For example in beta minus decay (feynman diagram given below) the exchange particle is the W- boson. But how does the W- boson let force act between the particles in this interaction.
    I would be grateful for any response but please bear in mind that I am an A-Level physics student (british high school) so am likely not to understand anything too complicated. Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 16, 2015 #2


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    I would say it would be more appropriate to say that it is a virtual particle which allows other particles to interact and exchange momentum and/or energy. The concept of force seemingly refers back to a more classical setting while virtuality itself is a QM concept.

    The main thing here is that the exchange particle can be virtual, which mens that its enegy and momentum do not follow the classically allowed.
  4. Jan 16, 2015 #3


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    "force" because it changes the momentum...in a "word-misuse" context...
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