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Field quantization

  1. Sep 22, 2007 #1
    When quantizing a static force field, say a Coulomb field, we get off mass shell, virtual particles and we say they transmit the force between two charges.

    They say the exchange of particles produces a force. It's a very profound and important concept in physics.

    But then, as I read many many times here on PF and elsewhere, virtual particles are just calculational devices, a linguistic convience.

    So what now?

    Is 'forces are exchanged by particles' a deep concept or just some words????

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 22, 2007 #2
    I am afraid, this is just "some words". The truth is that the most accurate representation of the behavior of an interacting system is in terms of state vectors in a Hilbert space, where the time evolution is generated by a certain Hamiltonian. This is a dull abstract description, and our human mind demands some visual "mechanistic" explanation of what "actually" is going on. The idea of virtual particles was supposed to make quantum mechanics less intimidating. However, I believe it did more confusion and harm than good.

  4. Sep 24, 2007 #3


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    Agree with every word. Especially with the observation that "it did more confusion and harm than good".
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