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Posted by Mark on October 4, 2001 17:25:25 UTC

What you're speaking of is the "zig-zag world line" effect... a possible explanation to the spontaneous appearance and annihilation of particle/antiparticle pairs. This was offered by Feynman, where he said that a particle like an electron, may momentarily travel faster than the speed of light and back in time, only to reverse course through time a fraction of a second later (a very small fraction!), and go forward in time again at sub light-speed. When the Feynman diagram is drawn out on paper, it appears to be a particle zig-zagging through time and space. The catch is that, as Feynman put it, we don't perceive the whole system as being one particle. We perceive it as being three particles; the initial electron, and two mutual anti-partners (the anti-partners being the one that travels back in time and the one perceived as the initial electron). On the diagram, Feynman treats the particle that goes back in time as a separate antiparticle that goes forward in time and "backwards in space" to annihilate with the initial electron and release radiation. All we see is the electron that reversed its course to go forward in time once again, and shot off away from this whole shenanigans. For all practical purposes, we say that the initial electron never did anything odd.... only that it traveled in a straight line amidst spontaneously created particles that annihilate very quickly. Since all this happens in such a brief period of time, nature never had any time to "notice"...ok ok, WE never had any time to notice. This is what I initially was explaining on uncertainty... the fact that particles can be created and destroyed due to uncertainties in energy over brief durations of time. The vacuum is teeming with these particles.

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