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Electromagnetism is a branch of physics involving the study of the electromagnetic force, a type of physical interaction that occurs between electrically charged particles. The electromagnetic force is carried by electromagnetic fields composed of electric fields and magnetic fields, and it is responsible for electromagnetic radiation such as light. It is one of the four fundamental interactions (commonly called forces) in nature, together with the strong interaction, the weak interaction, and gravitation.At high energy the weak force and electromagnetic force are unified as a single electroweak force.
Electromagnetic phenomena are defined in terms of the electromagnetic force, sometimes called the Lorentz force, which includes both electricity and magnetism as different manifestations of the same phenomenon. The electromagnetic force plays a major role in determining the internal properties of most objects encountered in daily life. The electromagnetic attraction between atomic nuclei and their orbital electrons holds atoms together. Electromagnetic forces are responsible for the chemical bonds between atoms which create molecules, and intermolecular forces. The electromagnetic force governs all chemical processes, which arise from interactions between the electrons of neighboring atoms.
There are numerous mathematical descriptions of the electromagnetic field. In classical electrodynamics, electric fields are described as electric potential and electric current. In Faraday's law, magnetic fields are associated with electromagnetic induction and magnetism, and Maxwell's equations describe how electric and magnetic fields are generated and altered by each other and by charges and currents.
The theoretical implications of electromagnetism, particularly the establishment of the speed of light based on properties of the "medium" of propagation (permeability and permittivity), led to the development of special relativity by Albert Einstein in 1905.
Originally, electricity and magnetism were considered to be two separate forces. This view changed with the publication of James Clerk Maxwell's 1873 A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism in which the interactions of positive and negative charges were shown to be mediated by one force. There are four main effects resulting from these interactions, all of which have been clearly demonstrated by experiments:
While preparing for an evening lecture on 21 April 1820, Hans Christian Ørsted made a surprising observation. As he was setting up his materials, he noticed a compass needle deflected away from magnetic north when the electric current from the battery he was using was switched on and off. This deflection convinced him that magnetic fields radiate from all sides of a wire carrying an electric current, just as light and heat do, and that it confirmed a direct relationship between electricity and magnetism.
At the time of discovery, Ørsted did not suggest any satisfactory explanation of the phenomenon, nor did he try to represent the phenomenon in a mathematical framework. However, three months later he began more intensive investigations. Soon thereafter he published his findings, proving that an electric current produces a magnetic field as it flows through a wire. The CGS unit of magnetic induction (oersted) is named in honor of his contributions to the field of electromagnetism.
His findings resulted in intensive research throughout the scientific community in electrodynamics. They influenced French physicist André-Marie Ampère's developments of a single mathematical form to represent the magnetic forces between current-carrying conductors. Ørsted's discovery also represented a major step toward a unified concept of energy.
This unification, which was observed by Michael Faraday, extended by James Clerk Maxwell, and partially reformulated by Oliver Heaviside and Heinrich Hertz, is one of the key accomplishments of 19th-century mathematical physics.It has had far-reaching consequences, one of which was the understanding of the nature of light. Unlike what was proposed by the electromagnetic theory of that time, light and other electromagnetic waves are at present seen as taking the form of quantized, self-propagating oscillatory electromagnetic field disturbances called photons. Different frequencies of oscillation give rise to the different forms of electromagnetic radiation, from radio waves at the lowest frequencies, to visible light at intermediate frequencies, to gamma rays at the highest frequencies.
Ørsted was not the only person to examine the relationship between electricity and magnetism. In 1802, Gian Domenico Romagnosi, an Italian legal scholar, deflected a magnetic needle using a Voltaic pile. The factual setup of the experiment is not completely clear, so if current flowed across the needle or not. An account of the discovery was published in 1802 in an Italian newspaper, but it was largely overlooked by the contemporary scientific community, because Romagnosi seemingly did not belong to this community.
An earlier (1735), and often neglected, connection between electricity and magnetism was reported by a Dr. Cookson.The account stated:
A tradesman at Wakefield in Yorkshire, having put up a great number of knives and forks in a large box ... and having placed the box in the corner of a large room, there happened a sudden storm of thunder, lightning, &c. ... The owner emptying the box on a counter where some nails lay, the persons who took up the knives, that lay on the nails, observed that the knives took up the nails. On this the whole number was tried, and found to do the same, and that, to such a degree as to take up large nails, packing needles, and other iron things of considerable weight ...
E. T. Whittaker suggested in 1910 that this particular event was responsible for lightning to be "credited with the power of magnetizing steel; and it was doubtless this which led Franklin in 1751 to attempt to magnetize a sewing-needle by means of the discharge of Leyden jars."
The electromagnetic force is one of the four known fundamental forces. The other fundamental forces are:
All other forces (e.g., friction, contact forces) are derived from these four fundamental forces.
The electromagnetic force is responsible for practically all phenomena one encounters in daily life above the nuclear scale, with the exception of gravity. Roughly speaking, all the forces involved in interactions between atoms can be explained by the electromagnetic force acting between the electrically charged atomic nuclei and electrons of the atoms. Electromagnetic forces also explain how these particles carry momentum by their movement. This includes the forces we experience in "pushing" or "pulling" ordinary material objects, which result from the intermolecular forces that act between the individual molecules in our bodies and those in the objects. The electromagnetic force is also involved in all forms of chemical phenomena.
A necessary part of understanding the intra-atomic and intermolecular forces is the effective force generated by the momentum of the electrons' movement, such that as electrons move between interacting atoms they carry momentum with them. As a collection of electrons becomes more confined, their minimum momentum necessarily increases due to the Pauli exclusion principle. The behaviour of matter at the molecular scale including its density is determined by the balance between the electromagnetic force and the force generated by the exchange of momentum carried by the electrons themselves.
In 1600, William Gilbert proposed, in his De Magnete , that electricity and magnetism, while both capable of causing attraction and repulsion of objects, were distinct effects. Mariners had noticed that lightning strikes had the ability to disturb a compass needle. The link between lightning and electricity was not confirmed until Benjamin Franklin's proposed experiments in 1752. One of the first to discover and publish a link between man-made electric current and magnetism was Romagnosi, who in 1802 noticed that connecting a wire across a voltaic pile deflected a nearby compass needle. However, the effect did not become widely known until 1820, when Ørsted performed a similar experiment.Ørsted's work influenced Ampère to produce a theory of electromagnetism that set the subject on a mathematical foundation.
A theory of electromagnetism, known as classical electromagnetism, was developed by various physicists during the period between 1820 and 1873 when it culminated in the publication of a treatise by James Clerk Maxwell, which unified the preceding developments into a single theory and discovered the electromagnetic nature of light.In classical electromagnetism, the behavior of the electromagnetic field is described by a set of equations known as Maxwell's equations, and the electromagnetic force is given by the Lorentz force law.
One of the peculiarities of classical electromagnetism is that it is difficult to reconcile with classical mechanics, but it is compatible with special relativity. According to Maxwell's equations, the speed of light in a vacuum is a universal constant that is dependent only on the electrical permittivity and magnetic permeability of free space. This violates Galilean invariance, a long-standing cornerstone of classical mechanics. One way to reconcile the two theories (electromagnetism and classical mechanics) is to assume the existence of a luminiferous aether through which the light propagates. However, subsequent experimental efforts failed to detect the presence of the aether. After important contributions of Hendrik Lorentz and Henri Poincaré, in 1905, Albert Einstein solved the problem with the introduction of special relativity, which replaced classical kinematics with a new theory of kinematics compatible with classical electromagnetism. (For more information, see History of special relativity.)
In addition, relativity theory implies that in moving frames of reference, a magnetic field transforms to a field with a nonzero electric component and conversely, a moving electric field transforms to a nonzero magnetic component, thus firmly showing that the phenomena are two sides of the same coin. Hence the term "electromagnetism". (For more information, see Classical electromagnetism and special relativity and Covariant formulation of classical electromagnetism.)
The Maxwell equations are linear, in that a change in the sources (the charges and currents) results in a proportional change of the fields. Nonlinear dynamics can occur when electromagnetic fields couple to matter that follows nonlinear dynamical laws. This is studied, for example, in the subject of magnetohydrodynamics, which combines Maxwell theory with the Navier–Stokes equations.
Electromagnetic units are part of a system of electrical units based primarily upon the magnetic properties of electric currents, the fundamental SI unit being the ampere. The units are:
In the electromagnetic cgs system, electric current is a fundamental quantity defined via Ampère's law and takes the permeability as a dimensionless quantity (relative permeability) whose value in a vacuum is unity. As a consequence, the square of the speed of light appears explicitly in some of the equations interrelating quantities in this system.
|Symbol||Name of quantity||Unit name||Symbol||Base units|
|I||electric current||ampere||A||A (= W/V = C/s)|
|J||electric current density||ampere per square metre||A/m2||A⋅m−2|
|U, ΔV, Δφ; E||potential difference; electromotive force||volt||V||J/C = kg⋅m2⋅s−3⋅A−1|
|R; Z; X||electric resistance; impedance; reactance||ohm||Ω||V/A = kg⋅m2⋅s−3⋅A−2|
|P||electric power||watt||W||V⋅A = kg⋅m2⋅s−3|
|C||capacitance||farad||F||C/V = kg−1⋅m−2⋅A2⋅s4|
|ΦE||electric flux||volt metre||V⋅m||kg⋅m3⋅s−3⋅A−1|
|E||electric field strength||volt per metre||V/m||N/C = kg⋅m⋅A−1⋅s−3|
|D||electric displacement field||coulomb per square metre||C/m2||A⋅s⋅m−2|
|ε||permittivity||farad per metre||F/m||kg−1⋅m−3⋅A2⋅s4|
|G; Y; B||conductance; admittance; susceptance||siemens||S||Ω−1 = kg−1⋅m−2⋅s3⋅A2|
|κ, γ, σ||conductivity||siemens per metre||S/m||kg−1⋅m−3⋅s3⋅A2|
|B||magnetic flux density, magnetic induction||tesla||T||Wb/m2 = kg⋅s−2⋅A−1 = N⋅A−1⋅m−1|
|Φ, ΦM, ΦB||magnetic flux||weber||Wb||V⋅s = kg⋅m2⋅s−2⋅A−1|
|H||magnetic field strength||ampere per metre||A/m||A⋅m−1|
|L, M||inductance||henry||H||Wb/A = V⋅s/A = kg⋅m2⋅s−2⋅A−2|
|μ||permeability||henry per metre||H/m||kg⋅m⋅s−2⋅A−2|
Formulas for physical laws of electromagnetism (such as Maxwell's equations) need to be adjusted depending on what system of units one uses. This is because there is no one-to-one correspondence between electromagnetic units in SI and those in CGS, as is the case for mechanical units. Furthermore, within CGS, there are several plausible choices of electromagnetic units, leading to different unit "sub-systems", including Gaussian, "ESU", "EMU", and Heaviside–Lorentz. Among these choices, Gaussian units are the most common today, and in fact the phrase "CGS units" is often used to refer specifically to CGS-Gaussian units.
The centimetre–gram–second system of units is a variant of the metric system based on the centimetre as the unit of length, the gram as the unit of mass, and the second as the unit of time. All CGS mechanical units are unambiguously derived from these three base units, but there are several different ways of extending the CGS system to cover electromagnetism.
Electricity is the set of physical phenomena associated with the presence and motion of matter that has a property of electric charge. In early days, electricity was considered as being unrelated to magnetism. Later on, many experimental results and the development of Maxwell's equations indicated that both electricity and magnetism are from a single phenomenon: electromagnetism. Various common phenomena are related to electricity, including lightning, static electricity, electric heating, electric discharges and many others.
An electromagnetic field is a classical field produced by moving electric charges. It is the field described by classical electrodynamics and is the classical counterpart to the quantized electromagnetic field tensor in quantum electrodynamics. The electromagnetic field propagates at the speed of light and interacts with charges and currents. Its quantum counterpart is one of the four fundamental forces of nature
In physics the Lorentz force is the combination of electric and magnetic force on a point charge due to electromagnetic fields. A particle of charge q moving with a velocity v in an electric field E and a magnetic field B experiences a force of
Magnetism is a class of physical phenomena that are mediated by magnetic fields. Electric currents and the magnetic moments of elementary particles give rise to a magnetic field, which acts on other currents and magnetic moments. Magnetism is one aspect of the combined phenomenon of electromagnetism. The most familiar effects occur in ferromagnetic materials, which are strongly attracted by magnetic fields and can be magnetized to become permanent magnets, producing magnetic fields themselves. Only a few substances are ferromagnetic; the most common ones are iron, cobalt and nickel and their alloys. The prefix ferro- refers to iron, because permanent magnetism was first observed in lodestone, a form of natural iron ore called magnetite, Fe3O4.
Maxwell's equations are a set of coupled partial differential equations that, together with the Lorentz force law, form the foundation of classical electromagnetism, classical optics, and electric circuits. The equations provide a mathematical model for electric, optical, and radio technologies, such as power generation, electric motors, wireless communication, lenses, radar etc. Maxwell's equations describe how electric and magnetic fields are generated by charges, currents, and changes of the fields. An important consequence of the equations is that they demonstrate how fluctuating electric and magnetic fields propagate at a constant speed (c) in a vacuum. Known as electromagnetic radiation, these waves may occur at various wavelengths to produce a spectrum of light from radio waves to γ-rays. The equations are named after the physicist and mathematician James Clerk Maxwell, who published an early form of the equations that included the Lorentz force law between 1861 and 1862. Maxwell first used the equations to propose that light is an electromagnetic phenomenon.
A magnetic field is a vector field that describes the magnetic influence of electric charges in relative motion and magnetized materials. The effects of magnetic fields are commonly seen in permanent magnets, which pull on magnetic materials and attract or repel other magnets. Magnetic fields surround and are created by magnetized material and by moving electric charges such as those used in electromagnets. They exert forces on nearby moving electrical charges and torques on nearby magnets. In addition, a magnetic field that varies with location exerts a force on magnetic materials. Both the strength and direction of a magnetic field vary with location. As such, it is described mathematically as a vector field.
An electric field surrounds an electric charge, and exerts force on other charges in the field, attracting or repelling them. Electric field is sometimes abbreviated as E-field. The electric field is defined mathematically as a vector field that associates to each point in space the force per unit of charge exerted on an infinitesimal positive test charge at rest at that point. The SI unit for electric field strength is volt per meter (V/m). Newtons per coulomb (N/C) is also used as a unit of electric field strength. Electric fields are created by electric charges, or by time-varying magnetic fields. Electric fields are important in many areas of physics, and are exploited practically in electrical technology. On an atomic scale, the electric field is responsible for the attractive force between the atomic nucleus and electrons that holds atoms together, and the forces between atoms that cause chemical bonding. Electric fields and magnetic fields are both manifestations of the electromagnetic force, one of the four fundamental forces of nature.
A magnet is a material or object that produces a magnetic field. This magnetic field is invisible but is responsible for the most notable property of a magnet: a force that pulls on other ferromagnetic materials, such as iron, and attracts or repels other magnets.
The oersted is the unit of the auxiliary magnetic field H in the centimetre–gram–second system of units (CGS). It is equivalent to 1 dyne per maxwell.
In physics, specifically electromagnetism, the Biot–Savart law is an equation describing the magnetic field generated by a constant electric current. It relates the magnetic field to the magnitude, direction, length, and proximity of the electric current. The Biot–Savart law is fundamental to magnetostatics, playing a role similar to that of Coulomb's law in electrostatics. When magnetostatics does not apply, the Biot–Savart law should be replaced by Jefimenko's equations. The law is valid in the magnetostatic approximation, and is consistent with both Ampère's circuital law and Gauss's law for magnetism. It is named after Jean-Baptiste Biot and Félix Savart, who discovered this relationship in 1820.
In classical electromagnetism, Ampère's circuital law relates the integrated magnetic field around a closed loop to the electric current passing through the loop. James Clerk Maxwell derived it using hydrodynamics in his 1861 paper "On Physical Lines of Force" and it is now one of the Maxwell equations, which form the basis of classical electromagnetism.
In physics, a unified field theory (UFT) is a type of field theory that allows all that is usually thought of as fundamental forces and elementary particles to be written in terms of a pair of physical and virtual fields. According to the modern discoveries in physics, forces are not transmitted directly between interacting objects, but instead are described and interrupted by intermediary entities called fields.
Gaussian units constitute a metric system of physical units. This system is the most common of the several electromagnetic unit systems based on cgs (centimetre–gram–second) units. It is also called the Gaussian unit system, Gaussian-cgs units, or often just cgs units. The term "cgs units" is ambiguous and therefore to be avoided if possible: cgs contains within it several conflicting sets of electromagnetism units, not just Gaussian units, as described below.
The physical constant ε0, commonly called the vacuum permittivity, permittivity of free space or electric constant or the distributed capacitance of the vacuum, is an ideal, (baseline) physical constant, which is the value of the absolute dielectric permittivity of classical vacuum. It has the CODATA value
The physical constant μ0,, commonly called the vacuum permeability, permeability of free space, permeability of vacuum, or magnetic constant, is the magnetic permeability in a classical vacuum. Vacuum permeability is derived from production of a magnetic field by an electric current or by a moving electric charge and in all other formulas for magnetic-field production in a vacuum. As of May 20, 2019, the vacuum permeability μ0 will no longer be a defined constant, but rather will need to be determined experimentally.
In electromagnetism and applications, an inhomogeneous electromagnetic wave equation, or nonhomogeneous electromagnetic wave equation, is one of a set of wave equations describing the propagation of electromagnetic waves generated by nonzero source charges and currents. The source terms in the wave equations make the partial differential equations inhomogeneous, if the source terms are zero the equations reduce to the homogeneous electromagnetic wave equations. The equations follow from Maxwell's equations.
In electromagnetism, Ørsted's law, also spelled Oersted's law, is the physical law stating that an electric current creates a magnetic field.
In electromagnetism, one of the fundamental fields of physics, the introduction of Maxwell's equations was one of the most important aggregations of empirical facts in the history of physics. Beginning in the 1850s, James Clerk Maxwell began studying the work of Michael Faraday, whose experiments on magnetism and electricity led him to a qualitative model of electromagnetism. Maxwell translated Faraday's notion of "lines of force" into mathematical formulas in an 1855 paper, presenting the earliest form of the equations by modifying Ampère's circuital law with the introduction of a displacement current term. His equations established a novel mathematized relationship between light and electromagnetism, implying that light propagates as electromagnetic waves. Increasingly powerful mathematical descriptions of the electromagnetic field were developed, continuing into the twentieth century, enabling the equations to take on simpler forms by advancing more sophisticated mathematics. Notably, Oliver Heaviside employed his vector calculus to synthesize Maxwell's over 20 equations into the four recognizable ones which modern physicists use. Maxwell's equations also inspired Albert Einstein in developing the theory of special relativity.
Electromagnetism is the study of forces between charged particles, electromagnetic fields, electric (scalar) potentials, magnetic vector potentials, the behavior of conductors and insulators in fields, circuits, magnetism, and electromagnetic waves. An understanding of electromagnetism is important for practical applications like electrical engineering and chemistry. In addition, concepts taught in courses on electromagnetism provide a basis for more advanced material in physics, such as quantum field theory and general relativity. This article focuses on a conceptual understanding of the topics rather than the details of the mathematics involved.
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