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- Thread starter brianhurren
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In summary, the correct understanding of a virtual particle is that it is a mathematical concept used in Quantum Field Theory, particularly in the Dyson series or Feynman diagrams. They are not real particles and only appear in perturbative methods, not in non-perturbative methods. They are not created or destroyed, but simply represent the exchange of energy between particles.

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brianhurren said:what is the correct understanding of a virtual particle?

They are simply mathematical artefacts of the usual perturbation methods used in Quantum Field Theory.

In particular they arise as a pictorial representation of a so called Dyson series, called a Feynman diagram:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyson_series

They are not in any sense real. Indeed when we use non-perturbative methods they never appear.

Thanks

Bill

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