The proton radius conundrum [Pohl, Nature 466, 213 (2010)NATUAS0028-083610. 1038/nature09250 and Antognini, Science 339, 417 (2013)SCIEAS0036-807510.1126/ science.1230016] highlights the need to revisit any conceivable sources of electron-muon nonuniversality in lepton-proton interactions within the standard model. Superficially, a number of perturbative processes could appear to lead to such a nonuniversality. One of these is a coupling of the scattered electron into an electronic vacuum-polarization loop as opposed to a muonic one in the photon exchange of two valence quarks, which is present only for electron projectiles as opposed to muon projectiles. However, we show that this effect actually is part of the radiative correction to the proton's polarizability contribution to the Lamb shift, equivalent to a radiative correction to double scattering. We conclude that any conceivable genuine nonuniversality must be connected with a nonperturbative feature of the proton's structure, e.g., with the possible presence of light sea fermions as constituent components of the proton. If we assume an average of roughly 0.7x10-7 light sea positrons per valence quark, then we can show that virtual electron-positron annihilation processes lead to an extra term in the electron-proton versus muon-proton interaction, which has the right sign and magnitude to explain the proton radius discrepancy.



Keywords and Phrases

Annihilation Process; Double Scattering; Photon Exchanges; Polarizabilities; Radiative Corrections; Scattered Electrons; The Standard Model; Vacuum-polarization; Electrons; Fermions; High Energy Physics; Positrons

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