The first thing we need to know is that virtual particles are unavoidable if we want to understand how the fundamental forces of nature move matter. is not a particle. “That language misleads people,” he says. Matt Strassler, a theoretical physicist at Harvard University. Second, they may not be the proper physical building blocks of the universe.
Let’s start with some basics. According to the quantum theory that best describes the subatomic realm, particles are not the tiny snooker balls we tend to imagine, but excitations of underlying quantum fields. For example, the Higgs boson is a spike in the Higgs field beneath it, and the electron is a spike in the electromagnetic field.
These fields permeate the entire universe, but we cannot observe them directly. What we see are particles. This is a distinct disturbance in the field that persists over time and interacts with other similar disturbances to produce more particles.
Virtual particles are finer. In fact, it is so subtle that it can be considered a disturbance of the underlying field, but it is not long-lasting and cannot be detected directly.
This is where things get confusing, as virtual particles seem to influence the properties and behavior of other particles in a measurable way. These appear to be emitted and absorbed by real particles when they interact. That is why we rely on virtual particles to understand how the three fundamental forces we know work: electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces.