The classical theory of electric and magnetic fields, both in the static and dynamic case. Also covers general questions about magnets, electric attraction/repulsion etc. Distinct from electrical-engineering.

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Does a magnetic field do work on an intrinsic magnetic dipole?

When you release a magnetic dipole in a nonuniform magnetic field, it will accelerate. I understand that for current loops (and other such macroscopic objects) the magnetic moment comes from moving ...
23
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5answers
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Why do we deal only with large scale magnetic fields in astrophysics, and not electric fields?

In astrophysics there is a lot going on about strong, large scale magnetic fields: in stars (prominences), magnetic dynamos, compact accretors collimating jets, etc. There's even a special ...
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7answers
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Is it theoretically possible to shield gravitational fields or waves?

Electromagnetic waves can be shielded by a perfect conductor. What about gravitational fields or waves?
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4answers
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Why do electrons occupy the space around nuclei, and not collide with them?

We all learn in grade school that electrons are negatively-charged particles that inhabit the space around the nucleus of an atom, that protons are positively-charged and are embedded within the ...
23
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7answers
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What happens to the magnetic field in this case?

As far as I know, it's possible to create a radially polarised ring magnet, where one pole is on the inside, and the field lines cross the circumference at right angles. So imagine if I made one ...
22
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4answers
948 views

Is the existence of electromagnetic standing waves dependent on the observers reference frame?

If I take two plane EM waves travelling in opposite direction e.g. $E = E_0 \sin(kx-\omega t)$ and $E=E_0 \sin (kx + \omega t)$, they sum to give a standing wave with a time-averaged Poynting vector ...
21
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3answers
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Why do we need 12 atoms to store 1 bit of data?

Recent research at IBM has found a way to store 1 bit of data in 12 atoms. While that is a big accomplishment compared to what we have today, it does seem like a waste to a non-physics eye like me. ...
21
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5answers
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How are forces “mediated”?

I hope this is the right word to use. To me, these forces seem kind of fanciful (except for General Relativity and Gravity, which have a geometric interpretation). For example, how do two charged ...
21
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5answers
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What non-metal is attracted by a magnet?

Are there any non-metal objects that are attracted by magnets?
21
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2answers
732 views

Covariant Description of Light Scattering at a fastly rotating Cylinder

Let us consider the following Gedankenexperiment: A cylinder rotates symmetric around the $z$ axis with angular velocity $\Omega$ and a plane wave with $\mathbf{E}\text{, }\mathbf{B} \propto ...
20
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5answers
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Does alternating current (AC) require a complete circuit?

This popular question about "whether an AC circuit with one end grounded to Earth and the other end grounded to Mars would work (ignoring resistance/inductance of the wire)" was recently asked on the ...
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4answers
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What is the magnetic field inside hollow ball of magnets?

Setup: we have a large number of thin magnets shaped such that we can place them side by side and eventually form a hollow ball. The ball we construct will have the north poles of all of the magnets ...
20
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3answers
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What is the answer to Feynman's Disc Paradox?

[This question is Certified Higgs Free!] Richard Feynman in Lectures on Physics Vol. II Sec. 17-4, "A paradox," describes a problem in electromagnetic induction that did not originate with him, but ...
19
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2answers
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Why do earphone pieces repel each other when music is on?

I know it has to do with electricity flowing and generating a magnetic field, but I would like a thorough explanation (with perhaps a picture). In particular: What is in the ear piece? Why do they ...
19
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5answers
883 views

Should a neutron fall faster than a proton?

If you drop a proton and a neutron in a gravitational field, they both fall, but the proton has a charge and accelerating charges radiate energy, so that leaves less kinetic energy for the proton and ...
18
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2answers
1k views

What is the difference between the Balmer series of hydrogen and deuterium?

In my quantum mechanics textbook, it claims that the Balmer series between hydrogen and deuterium is different. However, I was under the impression that the Balmer series $$H_\alpha, H_\beta, ...
18
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4answers
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Why do Maxwell's equations contain each of a scalar, vector, pseudovector and pseudoscalar equation?

Maxwell's equations, in differential form, are $$\left\{\begin{align} \vec\nabla\cdot\vec{E}&=~\rho/\epsilon_0,\\ \vec\nabla\times\vec B~&=~\mu_0\vec J+\epsilon_0\mu_0\frac{\partial\vec ...
18
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5answers
781 views

What was Feynman's “much better way of presenting the electrodynamics” — which did **not** appear in the Feynman lectures?

Does anyone know what Feynman was referring to in this interview which appears at the beginning of The Feynman Tips on Physics? Note that he is referring to something that did not appear in the ...
18
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1answer
822 views

Local explanation of the Aharonov-Bohm effect in terms of force fields

Here is an interesting paper for the Physics SE community: On the role of potentials in the Aharonov-Bohm effect. Lev Vaidman. Phys. Rev. A 86 no. 4, 040101 (R) (2012). arXiv:1110.6169 ...
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6answers
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Could a hard drive actually have been erased as described in Cryptonomicon?

In chapter 80, The Primary, Neal Stephenson has one of his character describe how the drives of a computer carried through a door (by the police, who where raiding the facility) will have been erased. ...
17
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7answers
472 views

What is potential energy truly?

I have a problematic question for which I have been unable to attain a satisfactory answer. What is potential energy truly? - I have read about how potential energy can be seen as the "highering" ...
17
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4answers
2k views

Is one way glass possible?

I am not talking about mirrors, just a plain window made of glass like material. Would it be possible to allow light pass only in one direction but not the other?
17
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4answers
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Are voltages discrete when we zoom in enough?

Voltages are often thought of as continuous physical quantities. I was wondering whether by zooming in a lot, they are discrete. I feel like the answer to the above question is yes as voltages in the ...
17
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5answers
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Home experiments using wireless LAN or mobile phones about electromagnetism?

Are there any nice experiments using wireless LAN access points or routers or mobile phones to demonstrate physical features of electromagnetic fields, especially em-waves? More precisely I am ...
17
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4answers
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Detection of the Electric Charge of a Black Hole

By the "No Hair Theorem", three quantities "define" a black hole; Mass, Angular Momentum, and Charge. The first is easy enough to determine, look at the radius of the event horizon and you can use the ...
17
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2answers
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Is Newton's universal gravitational constant the inverse of permittivity of mass in vacuum?

Is it possible to consider Newton's universal gravitational constant, $G$, as inverse of vacuum permittivity of mass? $$\epsilon_m=\frac {1}{4\pi G}$$ if so, then vacuum permeability of mass will ...
17
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1answer
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Flux through a Mobius strip

I was sent here from mathoverflow, hoping for a complete answer to this: === A friend of mine asked me what is the flux of the electric field (or any vector field like $$ \vec r=(x,y,z)\mapsto ...
16
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2answers
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Why is there no Gravitational Magnetic Field?

We think that the electric field and gravitational field operate similarly with their corresponding charges/masses. With just a difference that the electric field is sometimes attractive and sometimes ...
16
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5answers
15k views

Phase shift of 180 degrees on reflection from optically denser medium

Can anyone please provide an intuitive explanation of why phase shift of 180 degrees occurs in the Electric Field of a EM wave,when reflected from an optically denser medium? I tried searching for it ...
16
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1answer
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Kubo Formula for Quantum Hall Effect

I'm trying to understand the Kubo Formula for the electrical conductivity in the context of the Quantum Hall Effect. My problem is that several papers, for instance the famous TKNN (1982) paper, or ...
16
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3answers
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Distorted colors of Google StreetView photographs near electric power lines

This is a followup to my question: Cyclist's electrical tingling under power lines Some users presented a convincing picture that the electric shocks under power lines are primarily from the ...
15
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5answers
3k views

Is the EmDrive, or “Relativity Drive” possible?

In 2006, New Scientist magazine published an article titled Relativity drive: The end of wings and wheels1 [1] about the EmDrive [Wikipedia] which stirred up a fair degree of controversy and some ...
15
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3answers
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Is Biot-Savart law obtained empirically or can it be derived?

Well, there's already a question like this here so that my question could be considered duplicate, but I'll try to make my point clear. Is there a way to derive Biot-Savart law from the Lorentz' Force ...
15
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4answers
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History of Electromagnetic Field Tensor

I'm curious to learn how people discovered that electric and magnetic fields could be nicely put into one simple tensor. It's clear that the tensor provides many beautiful simplifications to the ...
14
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9answers
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“Reality” of EM waves vs. wavefunction of individual photons - why not treat the wave function as equally “Real”?

In thinking how to ask this question (somewhat) succinctly, I keep coming back to a Microwave Oven. A Microwave Oven has a grid of holes over the window specifically designed to be smaller in ...
14
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5answers
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What problems with Electromagnetism led Einstein to the Special Theory of Relativity?

I have often heard it said that several problems in the theory of electromagnetism as described by Maxwell's equations led Einstein to his theory of Special Relativity. What exactly were these ...
14
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2answers
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Does gravity affect magnetism, vice-versa, or do they “ignore” each other?

I am suddenly struck by the question of whether gravitation affects magnetism in some way. On the other hand, gravity is a weak force, but magnetism seems to be a strong force, so would magnetism ...
14
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4answers
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Popular depictions of electromagnetic wave: is there an error?

Here are some depictions of electromagnetic wave, similar to the depictions in other places: Isn't there an error? It is logical to presume that the electric field should have maximum when ...
14
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2answers
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Deriving the speed of the propagation of a change in the Electromagnetic Field from Maxwell's Equations

I've been told that, from Maxwell's equations, one can find that the propagation of change in the Electromagnetic Field travels at a speed $\frac{1}{\sqrt{\mu_0 \epsilon_0}}$ (the values of which can ...
14
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2answers
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How strong of magnetic field would noticibly attract a person?

There is Iron in blood. Iron is magnetic. Roughly how strong would a magnet have to be to induce a noticeable attraction? It would be nice to know this for several distances. Also, do electromagnets ...
14
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7answers
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What is the electric field generated by a spinning magnet?

Consider a cylinder of permanently magnetized material, with uniform magnetization pointing along the cylindrical symmetry axis (the $z$-direction). The magnet is rotating about its cylindrical ...
14
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3answers
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Shine a light into a superconductor

A type-I superconductor can expel almost all magnetic flux (below some critical value $H_c$) from its interior when superconducting. Light as we know is an electromagnetic wave. So what would happen ...
14
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5answers
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Difference between spin and polarization of a photon

I understand how one associates the spin of a quantum particle, e.g. of a photon, with intrinsic angular momentum. And in electromagnetism I have always understood the polarization of an EM wave as ...
14
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3answers
793 views

How to experimentally reconstruct Maxwell's equations from scratch

What are the minimal experiments would one need to perform in order to reconstruct Maxwell's equations from scratch, assuming even the concepts of $\vec E$ and $\vec B$ are unknown? While I'm not ...
14
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1answer
2k views

Equation describing magnetic hysteresis

So when you're looking at B-H curves for ferromagnetic substances, you often see these magnetic hysteresis curves, which occur, I gather, largely because of domain formation which has some reversible ...
14
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1answer
235 views

Why is Terahertz radiation so hard to generate?

This paper (and many others I've read) claim that searching for ways of producing THz radiation is a high-interest research topic. However, something I've just never understood is why it's so hard ...
14
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2answers
771 views

Why are electromagnetic waves not able to pass through a hole with a diameter smaller than the wavelength? [duplicate]

I am doing research on Faraday cages for school, and I want to know how it works. Faraday cages can have holes in them, and if the diameter is smaller than the wavelength of waves you want to block, ...
14
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1answer
593 views

What is the conclusion from Aharonov-Bohm Effect?

What is the conclusion that we can draw from the Aharonov-Bohm effect? Does it simply suggest that the vector potential has measurable effects? Does it mean that it is a real observable in quantum ...
13
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1answer
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Can you magnetize iron with a hammer?

We know that a piece of ferromagnet, such as iron, can be magnetized by putting in a strong magnetic field to get domains parallel to the field grow. I also remember from pop. culture and MacGyver ...
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6answers
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Why do physicists believe that there exist magnetic monopoles?

One thing I've heard stated many times is that "most" or "many" physicists believe that, despite the fact that they have not been observed, there are such things as magnetic monopoles. However, I've ...