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Virtual particles are a way of talking about fields and their interactions as though particles are doing all the work. This is why there is some controversy around using the term ‘virtual particles’. Some people think the term is useful, especially since in calculating with Feynman diagrams you draw all the particle interactions that are possible (and then do the calculations to get the right answer). While others feel this terminology is misleading because virtual particles don’t behave like real particles and can’t be observed.