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Hypothetical Question of Virtual Particles and Magnets

  1. Jan 12, 2012 #1
    I wasn't sure where to put this question, since it didn't seem to fit any category. However, because it brings up the topic of virtual particles, I'll ask here.

    From what I understand, virtual particles can travel faster than light, and it is virtual photons that are responsible for the attraction between two magnets. So my question is this: if there was a magnet that could supposedly be turned on and off, and there was a device that could detect the changes in that magnetic field from a distance away, would that device be able to pick up the changes as they happen (instantly)? Or would there still be some sort of delay?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 12, 2012 #2

    mathman

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    Virtual particles - faster than light????

    To answer your question - no signal that contains information (like in your question) can travel faster than light.
     
  4. Jan 12, 2012 #3
    Also, it's very dangerous to think of virtual particles as real things (that's why we call them virtual). They're really more of a quirk of a mathematical approximation we make in quantum field theory.
     
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