Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How does vacuum polarization conserve energy?

  1. May 12, 2015 #1
    So just to clear things up before we start, does vacuum polarization occur randomly, or does it just occur when an electromagnetic field is present?
    Also, how would vacuum polarization conserve energy - does it take energy from the field or does it emit negative energy gravity waves or something?
    Also, in the process of Hawking radiation, what actually happens? Does it absorb an antiparticle and emit the other, or does it absorb one of the photons emitted after annihilation?
    Cheers guys.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 12, 2015 #2


    User Avatar
    2017 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    The electromagnetic field is always present, but its field strength can be zero.
    How do you get energy out of it? If you are thinking of the Casimir effect: the energy has been in the finite separation of the objects all the time.
    Quantum mechanics happens. Popular descriptions are not what actually happens, but equations are hard to present to the public. "A particle escapes" is probably the best simplified description. No pairs involved.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook