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Q: What are Feynman diagrams, how are they used (theoretically & practically), and are there alternative/competing diagrams to Feynman’s?
Physicist: Feynman diagrams are primarily a way to keep track of what you’re doing. When you’re trying to calculate the probability of a particular particle interaction you’ll find yourself integrating over (adding up) every possible position and momentum of every involved particle. Feynman diagrams are not technically necessary, but they do help you keep track of variables and permutations. e,f) What if one of the electrons has a virtual photon “up in the air” during the photon exchange? g,h,i,j) What if one of the electrons emits and reabsorbs a virtual photon right before or after the exchange?
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