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If virtual particles can appear, can real particles disappear?

  1. Jun 25, 2010 #1
    So virtual particles are allowed to exist so long as they 'give back' their energy in the time alloted by the uncertainty principle. This might be a fairly naive question, but it occurred to me that maybe the opposite is true. Can 'real' particles cease to exist for brief flashes of time without violating conservation of energy?

    Is such an occurrence prohibited by any of the laws of physics?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 26, 2010 #2
    Certainly. A photon splitting into a virtual particle-antiparticle pair and again being
    'restored' is a common process that contributes to its propogation. You might say that it 'disappears'.
    However, I don't think of 'virtual' particles more than a mere mnemonic.
  4. Jun 27, 2010 #3
    It might be argued that quantum tunneling fits that description.
  5. Jun 28, 2010 #4
    kinda. What happens is that a real particle transforms into an antiparticle pair, which then annihilates into energy, which then becomes a particle again.
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