Electricity and Magnetism

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In particular, the weak and electromagnetic forces have been combined into a common force called the electroweak force. The goal of many physicists to unite all of the fundamental forces, including gravity, into one grand unified theory has not been attained to date. An important aspect of electromagnetism is the science of electricity, which is concerned with the behaviour of aggregates of charge, including the distribution of charge within matter and the motion of charge from place to place. Different types of materials are classified as either conductors or insulators on the basis of whether charges can move freely through their constituent matter.

Electric current is the measure of the flow of charges; the laws governing currents in matter are important in technology, particularly in the production, distribution, and control of energy. The concept of voltage, like those of charge and current, is fundamental to the science of electricity. Voltage is a measure of the propensity of charge to flow from one place to another; positive charges generally tend to move from a region of high voltage to a region of lower voltage.

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A common problem in electricity is determining the relationship between voltage and current or charge in a given physical situation. This article seeks to provide a qualitative understanding of electromagnetism as well as a quantitative appreciation for the magnitudes associated with electromagnetic phenomena.

Everyday modern life is pervaded by electromagnetic phenomena. When a lightbulb is switched on, a current flows through a thin filament in the bulb, and the current heats the filament to such a high temperature that it glows, illuminating its surroundings. Electric clocks and connections link simple devices of this kind into complex systems such as traffic lights that are timed and synchronized with the speed of vehicular flow.

Radio and television sets receive information carried by electromagnetic waves traveling through space at the speed of light. To start an automobile , currents in an electric starter motor generate magnetic fields that rotate the motor shaft and drive engine pistons to compress an explosive mixture of gasoline and air; the spark initiating the combustion is an electric discharge, which makes up a momentary current flow.

Electromagnetism physics. See Article History. Alternative Title: electromagnetic interaction. In reality we now know that the electrons actually flow from the negative to the positive.


Electromagnetism is the theory of a unified expression of an underlying force, the electromagnetic force. This is seen in the movement of electric charge, that gives rise to magnetism the electric current in a wire being found to deflect a compass needle , and it was Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell — , who published a unifying theory of electricity and magnetism in However, one factor that did not contradict the experiments was added to the equations by Maxwell to ensure the conservation of charge.

This was done on the theoretical grounds that charge should be a conserved quantity, and this addition led to the prediction of a wave phenomena with a certain anticipated velocity. Light, with the expected velocity, was found to be an example of this electro-magnetic radiation. Light had formerly been thought of as consisting of particles photons by Newton, but the theory of light as particles was unable to explain the wave nature of light diffraction and the like.

In reality, light displays both wave and particle properties. The resolution to this duality lies in quantum theory , where light is neither particles nor wave, but both. It propagates as a wave without the need of a medium and interacts in the manner of a particle.

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This is the basic nature of quantum theory. Classical electromagnetism, useful as it is, contains contradictions acausality that make it incomplete and drive one to consider its extension to the area of quantum physics , where electromagnetism, of all the fundamental forces of nature, it is perhaps the best understood. There is much symmetry between electricity and magnetism. It is possible for electricity to give rise to magnetism, and symmetrically for magnetism to give rise to electricity as in the exchanges within an electric transformer.

Electricity & Magnetism

It is an exchange of just this kind that constitutes electromagnetic waves. These waves, although they don't need a medium of propagation, are slowed when traveling through a transparent substance.

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Electromagnetic waves differ from each other only in amplitude, frequency, and orientation polarization. Laser beams are particular in being very coherent, that is, the radiation is of one frequency, and the waves coordinated in motion and direction. This permits a highly concentrated beam that is used not only for its cutting abilities, but also in electronic data storage, such as in CD-ROMs. The differing frequency forms are given a variety of names, from radio waves at very low frequencies through light itself, to the high frequency x rays and gamma rays.

The unification of electricity and magnetism allows a deeper understanding of physical science, and much effort has been put into further unifying the four forces of nature e. The weak force has now been unified with electromagnetism, called the electroweak force. There are research programs attempting to collect data that may lead to a unification of the strong force with the electroweak force in a grand unified theory, but the inclusion of gravity remains an open problem. Maxwell's theory is in fact in contradiction with Newtonian mechanics, and in trying to find the resolution to this conflict, Einstein was lead to his theory of special relativity.

Maxwell's equations withstood the conflict, but it was Newtonian mechanics that were corrected by relativistic mechanics.

These corrections are most necessary at velocities, close to the speed of light. Paradoxically, magnetism is a counter example to the frequent claims that relativistic effects are not noticeable for low velocities. The moving charges that compose an electric current in a wire might typically only be traveling at several feet per second walking speed , and the resulting Lorentz contraction of special relativity is indeed minute.

However, the electrostatic forces at balance in the wire are of such great magnitude, that this small contraction of the moving negative charges exposes a residue force of real world magnitude, namely the magnetic force.

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It is in exactly this way that the magnetic force derives from the electric. Special relativity is indeed hidden in Maxwell's equations, which were known before special relativity was understood or separately formulated by Einstein. Electricity at high voltages can carry energy across extended distances with little loss. Magnetism derived from that electricity can then power vast motors. But electromagnetism can also be employed in a more delicate fashion as a means of communication, either with wires as in the telephone , or without them as in radio communication.

It also drives motors and provides current for electronic and computing devices. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. June 30, Retrieved June 30, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia. Electromagnetism is the force involving the interaction of electricity and magnetism.

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It is the science of electrical charge, and its rules govern the way charged particles of atoms interact. Electromagnetism is one of the four fundamental forces of the universe gravity and the "strong" and "weak" forces that hold an atomic nucleus together are the other three. Because its effects can be observed so easily, electromagnetism is the best understood of these four forces. Some of the rules of electrostatics, or the study of electric charges at rest, were first noted by the ancient Romans, who observed the way a brushed comb would attract particles.

Until the nineteenth century, however, electricity and magnetism were thought to be totally different and separate forces. In , a direct connection between the two forces was confirmed for the first time when Danish physicist Hans Christian Oersted — announced his discovery that an electric current , if passed through a wire placed near a compass needle, would make the needle move.

This suggested that electricity somehow creates a magnetic force or field, since a compass needle moves by magnetism. He concluded that magnetism is the result of electricity in motion. Thus, currents induce in their vicinity magnetic fields. Another example of electricity and magnetism at work is in an atom, since an electron is a charge which moves about the nucleus, in effect it forms a current loop, and hence a magnetic field may be associated with an individual atom. It is this basic property which is believed to be the origin of the magnetic properties of various types of materials found in nature.

This well-illustrated e-book, coupled with some basic knowledge of electricity, will give you a broad theoretical background in this fundamental subject. Electricity - What is it? What is magnetism? What is the relationship between electricity and magnetism? Like charges repel, and unlike charges attract. All objects may have a charge equal to an integral number of a basic unit of charge. Charge is never created or destroyed. Later on we will see at the atomic level why this is so. Share it:. Write for This Channel.

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