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The name refers to the theory of interaction of electrons, positrons and photons. Quantum electrodynamics has been created by the efforts of a number of theoretical physicists. At the heart of it, like any other quantum field theory,
on the idea of filling the space field in which the possible elementary excitations - quantum.
Photon - a quantum of electromagnetic field and the electrons and positrons - the quanta of the electron-positron field (usually the term "quantum" is used only to photons).
Quantum electrodynamics - relativistic theory, i.e., its equations are subject to the principles of relativity theory: they look the same and in the stationary and uniformly moving coordinate systems.
Another important property of quantum electrodynamics - the locality. It consists in the fact that the elementary interaction - the emission or absorption of a photon by an electron or positron - instantaneously and in an infinitesimal region of space. Moreover, the local interaction does not occur in a vacuum, but in the physical vacuum.
The participants in the physical vacuum of virtual particles (photons and electron-positron pairs) are redistributed in making a real particle, and in the process of local interaction.
Theorists have suggested that physical factors limiting the pulse of the virtual particles associated with an increase of the gravitational field and pulses occur at about 1019
This effect - the polarization of the vacuum - very small, but it is of fundamental importance as contributing to all the processes of interaction and should take into account the quantum field theory. For a long time been able to calculate the vacuum polarization due to the so-called ultraviolet divergences. The fact that the number of virtual particles in vacuum is not limited. Not limited to, and contributions to the vacuum polarization of virtual particles with large momenta, i.e., with small (ultraviolet), the de Broglie wavelength. All this resulted in the calculation of some physical quantities, such as the mass of the particle, its charge, etc., to meaningless results - infinity.
Success in overcoming this difficulty in quantum electrodynamics has been achieved in theoretical physics X. Bethe, who noted that the relations between directly observable quantities, such as a shift of the atomic levels of vacuum polarization and the observed mass and charge of an electron, does not contain infinite quantities. The contributions of virtual particles in the ultraviolet that are mutually compensated. Developed a special mathematical technique will eliminate from the theory of quantum electro dynamics infinite quantities. This technique is called the renormalization method. In the development of a more general theory would have to be borne in mind that in addition to electrons and photons, there are other particles, resulting in virtually the physical vacuum, and other forces than the electromagnetic. And ought to find a real, physical reason to restrict the momenta of the virtual particles, but not to impose this restriction as a mathematical device.
The birth of virtual particles with the Coulomb field of the atomic interaction of the electron core.