The Higgs and virtual particles

  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

I have been reading the Quantum Diaries here http://www.quantumdiaries.org/2011/03/25/an-idiosyncratic-introduction-to-the-higgs/ and in discussing the Higgs and the LHC experiment he says

"The general problem is this: at the LHC, we’re smashing protons into one another. The protons are each made up of a goop of quarks, antiquarks, and gluons. This is important: the protons are more than just three quarks! As we mentioned before, protons are terribly non-perturbative objects. Virtual (anti-)quarks and gluons are being produced and reabsorbed all over the place. It turns out that the main processes that produce Higgs bosons from proton collisions comes from the interaction of these virtual particles!"

Now if I understand "non-perturbative objects" correctly then he seems to be implying that the virtual particles are more than just a calculation artifact.Is this just another case of layman simplification and if so could you explain the correct interpritation?

Thanks Andrew
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
A. Neumaier
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Protons are real particles, hence (like everything real) nonperturbative objects, unlike virtual particles , which only have meaning in perturbation theory. A (virtual) process is short shrift for a diagram or a family of related diagrams, hence involves virtual particles. The Higgs production rates computed in remormalized perturbation theory are for real processes happening in time, where virtual particles cannot exist for lack of a state.

The page you linked to starts off saying ''to explain the Higgs to a general audience using analogies'' so one would expect the usual fairy tales. But in fact the description given is sound and doesn't attempt to interpret these virtual processes as happening in time. The ''being produced and reabsorbed all over the place'' is meant to be in the diagrams of the family, not in real life. In particular, in the present context he does not imply that the virtual particles are more than just a calculation artifact!
 
  • #3
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Thanks I completely misunderstood term nonperturbative objects. I see now it means they are real rather than from perturbations processes i.e."virtual". Thanks for taking the time to explain so fully.
Regards Andrew
 

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