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View Diary: On the Nature of Matter - Part 3 (17 comments)

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  •  To My Limited Understanding (1+ / 0-)
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    (and I'm not nearly as far along as Science, not by a tenth part) is that electromagnetic fields' carrier particles are photons.  When the two fields of your magnets come into play with each other, they exchange virtual photons as force carriers.

    Before you get all excited, they're only virtual photons (it's easiest, although inaccurate, to think of their mass-energy being borrowed from the field energy and returned when the interaction is complete).  

    And photons are only the carriers of electromagnetic force, not any others.  Z and W bosons are also carriers of electroweak force, just under different circumstances.

    In our every day lives, the photon is definitely the particle we interact with the most that we notice.  Assuming that gravity has a force carrier (the Standard Model doesn't seem to require that it does), it would be a graviton.

    If that's the case, you interact with a heck of a lot of virtual gravitons during your day.  However, only one mass--Earth--is large enough and close enough for you to notice, and we get used to a 1 g field and cease to pay attention to it.

    There are others.  Virtual gluons hold together all the nucleii of all the atoms of you, but you don't notice them.  And they aren't effective over anything but very short distances.

    W and Z bosons come into play for the weak force.  The W boson is rather famous for beta decay and handily explains how decay can release multiple simultaneous particles--it doesn't, it releases a W boson which is quite short-lived and breaks down into those particles.

    So there's plenty of stuff going on there.

    (-6.38, -7.03) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

    by Lonely Liberal in PA on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 10:14:48 PM PDT

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    •  But those virtual photons (0+ / 0-)

      exert real forces. Like between my magnets.

      Calling them virtual may work from a theoretical point of view. But it doesn't convince me that something real isn't exerting that force. Some sort of energy. I think magnetic effects are exerted within their fields by a form of light energy.

      •  I just said that. (1+ / 0-)
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        That isn't bad, actually, for a Wikipedia article.  But the concept is pretty basic.

        There's no difference, per se, between a virtual photon and a "real" photon, save that the virtual photon's lifespan is limited.  A "real" particle is distinguished by the fact that it exists for an arbitrarily long time.  Both are allowed to exert real force, which is fortunate because the way fields interact is via virtual particles.

        The photons being shot into my eyes from the ceiling wash light from the bookcase exist for...math...about 1x10^-8 seconds or so.  That's way more than long enough that they're "real."

        The photon is what carries electromagnetic force.  Hence, moving your magnets together exchanges photons that transmit the force between the magnets.

        (-6.38, -7.03) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

        by Lonely Liberal in PA on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 10:50:28 PM PDT

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        •  So when I hold a compass (0+ / 0-)

          and the earth's magnetic field pushes the needle, the needle's atom's dipoles are aligning themselves with the earth's field's dipoles, right? And the earth's mag field is a cummulative effect generated by a huge number of magnetically aligned particles near the center of the earth.

          Does the magnet exchange virtual particles with each of the particles that generate that field from the center of the earth?  

          And if I don't have a compass handy, the field is still present everywhere around the earth. Are there virtual photons being exchanged between every point in space around the earth and the atoms that generate that field all the time? That seems like a lot of photons.

          •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
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            Although Earth's magnetic field is generated by a dynamo, not aligned particles.  Mars' (very patchy and very weak) magnetic fields are generated more by aligned particles as the core dynamo died out at least a billion years ago, if not a lot more.

            Every time you walk, complex and very dense networks of virtual particles interact between your feet and the floor, keeping you from falling through it.

            Technical terminology wouldn't be the "metric boat-ton" description I'd use to describe the number of virtual photons that will interact with you in this particular second.  But metric boat-ton is accurate, if relatively unspecific.  Every molecule of air bouncing off of you generates them.  Your rear end sitting in the chair generates loads of them.

            (-6.38, -7.03) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

            by Lonely Liberal in PA on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 07:03:08 AM PDT

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