# Virtual particles are not matter-antimatter, is it?

## Main Question or Discussion Point

so physicists say that vacuum is filled with virtual electrons and positrons that last very shortly and then annihilate.. They are even planning on building super strong lasers to generate the EM field strong enough to separate them before annihilating - making them real.
But this concerns me - in order to make virtual particles theory possible, those particles must be .. opposite and equal total energy and charge and everything.. not just like antimatter-matter. As antimatter-matter annihilation releases energy (gamma photons..) and stuff.. you know - one cannot gain energy or matter, for that instance, out of nothing.
If virtual particles are real and we manage to separate the pairs before they .. annihilate - we would get some kinds of new particles.. and if one has mass, then the other.. well guess what - would have something like negative mass or something weird. To keep the total energy of the universe constant.

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Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
The virtual particles would take the energy from the lasers in order to become "real". There would NOT be a negative mass particle or anything like that. It would simply be equal amounts of matter and antimatter.

But this concerns me - in order to make virtual particles theory possible, those particles must be .. opposite and equal total energy and charge and everything.. not just like antimatter-matter.
The particles would be opposite charge, but not mass or energy, just like normal matter and antimatter. A positron and an electron have the same amount of energy. They only differ in charge and such.

well... shouldn't the KINETIC energy be taken from the lasers..? As they must be separated and once they are - they are moving at high speeds away from each other. I suppose THAT kinetic energy is taken from the beams.

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and any way - when scientists say that quantum fluctuations are real and particles and anti-particles are created and then annihilated .. - what is released in this annihilation? A photon? Photon is pretty much positive energy. Added to the universe from.. what?

Does this imply that the quantum fluctuations are just the result of photons (or other particles.. neutrinos.. WIMPS .. stuff.. ) flying around and decaying and re-creating themselves? And those things have a source.. witch makes quantum fluctuations just .. not random or mysterious or anything..

Nothing is added. Energy is converted from mass (the particle/ anti particle pair) into energy (photons).

Nothing is added. Energy is converted from mass (the particle/ anti particle pair) into energy (photons).
WHAT mass?

The mass of the particles.

Nothing is added. Energy is converted from mass (the particle/ anti particle pair) into energy (photons).
WHAT mass? And where did it came from? And why isn't vacuum glowing? (because the energy is opposite and erases itself.. (?) )

WHAT mass? And where did it came from? And why isn't vacuum glowing? (because the energy is opposite and erases itself.. (?) )
Like I stated just before this post, the mass of the particle and anti particle.

To your original question. virtual particles and matter/ anti matter are quite different. I am not completely sure on the differences, but it would not take long to figure out using google.

Particle/ anti particle pairs are physically real, in the sense that one can take direct measurements of either (from my understanding). In the annihilation of the two (when they interact), their mass is converted into photons, generally gamma rays, but it would depend on the particle pair.

Like I stated just before this post, the mass of the particle and anti particle.

To your original question. virtual particles and matter/ anti matter are quite different. I am not completely sure on the differences, but it would not take long to figure out using google.

Particle/ anti particle pairs are physically real, in the sense that one can take direct measurements of either (from my understanding). In the annihilation of the two (when they interact), their mass is converted into photons, generally gamma rays, but it would depend on the particle pair.
Well, yes, of course - I understand matter antimatter annihilation... but im talking about those virtual mutant thingies aka virtual particles.

This thread actually exists because I red this article on newscientist.com .. they are going to build a very powerful laser to generate the EM fields strong enough to separate the virtual particles ..
It COULD be fine with me, but it seams more that they are jst going to create matter antimatter pairs frome the [energy of] the laser itself. So where do the virtual mutant thingies come in?

Do you mean virtual particle and virtual anti particle annihilation?

From a little research, it appears that virtual particles are ways to describe various physical fields, and they are a way to quantize the interaction between particles in a field. I would like to see someone else who has a better understanding of this has to say, though.

I reread your original post and I guess I did not read it clearly at the start. It is a good question, one that I might ask my professor at some point today.

As always, reading wikipedia gives a little insight, though it is still a little vague.

Do you mean virtual particle and virtual anti particle annihilation?

From a little research, it appears that virtual particles are ways to describe various physical fields, and they are a way to quantize the interaction between particles in a field. I would like to see someone else who has a better understanding of this has to say, though.

I reread your original post and I guess I did not read it clearly at the start. It is a good question, one that I might ask my professor at some point today.

As always, reading wikipedia gives a little insight, though it is still a little vague.
Yes, exactly. Virtual particles and antiparticles annihilation. \
They are supposed to do that all the time pretty much everywhere.
What comes out of this virtual annihilation? If nothing, then - why?

ahh. I grab my head and hate myself for thinking too much in my free time. .. and not so free time.. and prety much all the time.
Im not sure now what I wanted to ask and I just figured that I dont know anything and I lot my thought ..
Nuts!
Im going to sleep.

HallsofIvy
Homework Helper
Well, yes, of course - I understand matter antimatter annihilation... but im talking about those virtual mutant thingies aka virtual particles.
There is nothing "mutant" about them. "Virtual" eletrons and positrons are electrons and positrons with all the charge and mass of other electrons and positrons. They are just created (by "quantum fluctuations") so close together they immediately annihilate one another. Their mass (and, of course, "conservation of mass" becomes "conservation of mass/energy" relativistically: $e= mc^2$) is created from the change in energy of the space and when they annihilate, space regains that energy.

So when a field is acting on a particle, there is work done by the field, which is mediated by virtual particles. These particles "carry" the energy from one point to another, and the energy released in their annihilation is equal to the amount of work done on the particle, by the field.

Is that a fair statement?

You might want to search this forum for threads titled like "Are virtual particles Real"

Many people think virutal particles do not actually exist and are basically just a mathematical artifact that arises from using an approximation scheme within QFT called a perturbation series.