MadSci Network: Physics

Re: Spontaneus creation of protons

Date: Tue May 5 14:55:21 1998
Posted By: Bernard Gilroy, Secondary School Teacher, Science (Physics, Astrophysics), Holy Ghost Preparatory School
Area of science: Physics
ID: 889330251.Ph

>1. How frequent is this occurance? This happens all the time ... literally. The vacuum is contiously creating/destroying pairs of particles and antiparticles ("virtual pairs"). I don't know the computation for how often a particular spot might cough up an electron/positron pair. Of course, you have to worry about the fact that virtual pairs can spawn virtual particles themselves, and so on. But it's safe to say that this odd behavior is happening RIGHT NOW all around you. > >and > >2. Since this should be a uniform occurance across the universe, >even between galaxies, could the "instantaneous" mass of these >protons account for the dark matter that is missing? Hmmm, intriguing thought. However, since the creation of the pair "violates" energy conservation, the pair must disappear really quickly ... which, I think, means the virtual particles must "eat" any (virtual) gravitons they emit. Otherwise, the pair would have a long time effect on the Universe, and they'd be seen. You might wonder how we know such pairs exist, if they can't leave any calling cards like gravitational effect. As far as I can figure, the virtual pairs affect the _probabilities_ of certain scattering processes (by offering another channel for the reaction). So by comparing computed probabilities to actual results, one can "see" that the virtual pair was there.

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