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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Why is current a scalar quantity?

Current has both magnitude and direction. As per the definition of vector defined in encyclopedia, current should be a vector quantity. But, we know that current is a scalar quantity. What is the ...
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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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There is no such thing as magnetism?

Here's an interesting "proof" that there is no such thing as magnetism. I know the answer but I love this so much I had to ask it here. It's a great way to confuse people! As we all know, $$\nabla ...
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Maxwell in multiple dimensions: What happens to curl?

I read this answer a while ago, and while thinking about $\nabla$, I realized something. Since the cross product can be written as a determinant, in higher dimensions we require extra vector inputs. ...
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Is classical electromagnetism a dead research field?

Is classical electromagnetism a dead research field? Are there any phenomena within classical electromagnetism that we have no explanation for?
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Why no longitudinal electromagnetic waves?

According to wikipedia and other sources, there are no longitudinal electromagnetic waves in free space. I'm wondering why not. Consider an oscillating charged particle as a source of EM waves. Say ...
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An example which contradict to Newton's 3rd law?

Let a,b be two charged particles. $$\vec{r}_a(0)=\vec{0}$$ $$\vec{r}_b(0)=r\hat{j}$$ $$\vec{v}_a(t)=v_a \hat{i}$$ $$\vec{v}_b(t)=v_b\hat{j}$$ In which both $v_a$ and $v_b$ $<<c$. Then ...
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Coulomb's Law in the presence of a strong gravitational field

I was under the impression that the $1/r^2$ falloff of various forces were because of the way the area of a expanding sphere scales. But that strict $1/r^2$ falloff would only be globally true in a ...
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Can someone please explain magnetic vs electric fields?

I've looked through about 20 different explanations, from the most basic to the most complex, and yet I still dont understand this basic concept. Perhaps someone can help me. I dont understand the ...
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Where can I find simulation software for electricity and magnets?

Is there easily-available* software to simulate coils, solenoids, and other magnetic and electromagnetic devices? I'd like to play around with some design ideas, such as Halbach arrays, but physics ...
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Can magnetic fields be redirected and focused at one point?

I know that magnetic fields can be redirected, but... given a situation where you have static magnetic field over a large area, and you want to quickly change the magnetic field strength. Is it ...
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What does it mean for a physical quantity if its mixed second partial derivatives are not equal?

This goes for every problem (either in electromagnetism or fluid dynamics) that has to do with vector fields. Say we have a fluid flowing in a closed circular pipe (or an electromagnetic field, the ...
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Fundamental invariants of the electromagnetic field

It is a standard exercise in relativistic electrodynamics to show that the electromagnetic field tensor $F_{\mu\nu}$, whose components equal the electric $E^i=cF^{i0}$ and magnetic ...
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How to interpret the magnetic vector potential?

In electromagnetism, we can re-write the electric field in terms of the electric scalar potential, and the magnetic vector potential. That is: $E = -\nabla\phi - \frac{\partial A}{\partial t}$, ...
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What symmetry is associated with conservation of Lipkin's zilch?

The 'zilch' of an electromagnetic field is the tensor $$ Z^{\mu}_{\ \ \ \nu\rho}=^*\!\!F^{\mu\lambda}F_{\lambda\nu,\rho}-F^{\mu\lambda}\,{}^*\!F_{\lambda\nu,\rho} \tag1 $$ given in terms of the ...
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Where the angular momentum has gone?

I came across an interesting problem when I prepared for the preliminary exam on electromagnetism. Below is the problem in its original words: A metallic sphere of mass, $m$, and radius, $a$, ...
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Physical Interpretation of EM Field Lagrangian

Using differential forms and their picture interpretations, I wonder if it's possible to give a nice geometric & physical motivation for the form of the Electromagnetic Lagrangian density? The ...
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What could magnetic monopoles do that electrically charged particles can't?

I understand the significance to physics, but what can a magnetic monopole be used for assuming we could free them from spin ice and put them to work? What would be a magnetic version of electricity? ...
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Why doesn't this magnetic perpetual motion machine work?

I know that this machine does not work, via thermodynamics. I am asking for an analysis in terms of mechanics and magnetism. Anyway, so here is the machine: The magnet (the red ball) pull the ball ...
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Why is it so hard to make objects invisible in visible light?

We can make objects invisible in the realm of radio and infrared wavelength. We can, for example, hide a plane radar and heat signature from being detected. However, it seem, even after years of ...
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Is current in superconductors infinite? If they have 0 resistance then I (V/R) should be infinite? [duplicate]

I learned many years ago that according to Ohm's law, current is equal to voltage divided by resistance. Now if superconductors have zero resistance then the current should be infinite. Moreover the ...
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What's the core difference between the electric and magnetic forces?

I require only a simple answer. One sentence is enough... (It's for high school physics)
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Why should Conservative forces have their curl equal to zero?(intuition)

There are several conditions that must be met in order for a force to be conservative. One of them is that the curl of that force must be equal to zero? What is the physical intuition behind this? If ...
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How does Hendo hoverboards achieve the self-propelling motion? What is the MFA?

From what I understand of the idea behind Hendo hoverboards, they use four disc shaped hover-engines to generate a self-propelling motion. I also understand that it uses Lenz's law and eddy currents. ...
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Why are wires in simple circuits approximated as equipotentials?

I just answered this question: Voltage in a circuit by asserting that any two points joined only by a wire, but no other circuit elements, are at the same value of the electric potential. It is, of ...
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Where's the energy in a boosted capacitor?

Suppose I look at a parallel plate capacitor in its rest frame and calculate the electrostatic energy, $E$. Next, I look at the same capacitor in a primed frame boosted in the direction perpendicular ...
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Can a free particle absorb/emit photons?

As simple as in the title.. I would like to know also some mathematics about it!
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Is it possible to project a magnetic field at a location in space?

A magnetic field strength drops-off quickly as the distance from a magnet increases. Is there any way to use electromagnetic fields to create a magnetic field at a location. For example, if there are ...
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Why aren't there compression waves in electromagnetic fields?

I just started learning about optics, and in the book I'm reading they explain how the electrical field caused by a single charged particle could be described by a series of field lines, and compare ...
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Making symmetry between E and B fields manifest in Lagrangian

Maxwell's equations are nearly symmetric between $E$ and $B$. If we add magnetic monopoles, or of course if we restrict ourselves to the sourceless case, then this symmetry is exact. This is not ...
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Will an emf be induced across the ends of a stationary metal rod placed in a time-varying magnetic field?

Consider a thin metal rod placed in a magnetic field whose direction is constant but whose magnitude is changing with time, with the length of the rod perpendicular to the direction of the magnetic ...
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Are metals more heavy due to the Earth's magnetic field?

Non-metal objects are attracted to the Earth due to gravity. So the weight of non-metal objects can be only dependent on their mass. On the other hand metals can be attracted to the Earth's magnetic ...
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What is canonical momentum?

What does the canonical momentum $\textbf{p}=m\textbf{v}+e\textbf{A}$ mean? Is it just momentum accounting for electromagnetic effects?
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Is there a strong force analog to magnetic fields?

In special relativity, magnetism can be re-interpreted as an aspect of how electric charges interact when viewed from different inertial frames. Color charge is more complex than electric charge, but ...
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What are the fields produced around a current carrying conductor?

If you consider a current carrying conductor, every instant an electron enters the conductor, another electron will be leaving the conductor. Thus, the current carrying conductor will not be charged ...
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What causes the permittivity and permeability of vacuum?

When light travels through a material, it gets "slowed down" (at least its net speed decreases). The atoms in the material "disturb" the light in some way which causes it to make stops on its path. ...
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Is the electromagnetic mass real?

In his Lectures on Physics vol II Ch.28-2 Feynman calculates the field momentum of a moving charged sphere with charge $q$, radius $a$ and velocity $\mathbf{v}$. He finds that the total momentum in ...
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Is diffraction affected by interaction between photons and electrons?

Suppose we take a sheet of ordinary metal, make a narrow slit in it, and shine a light beam through the slit onto a screen. The light beam will diffract from the edges of the slit and spread out onto ...
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Is it possible to separate the poles of a magnet?

It might seem common sense that when we split a magnet we get 2 magnets with their own N-S poles. But somehow, I find it hard to accept this fact.(Which I now know is stated by Gauss's Law) I have ...
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Do electrostatic fields really obey “action at a distance”?

In an electromagnetic theory class, my professor introduced the concept of "action at a distance in physics". He said that: If two charges are at some very large distance, and if any one of the ...
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Are the Maxwell's equations enough to derive the law of Coulomb?

Are the 8 Maxwell's equations enough to derive the formula for the electromagnetic field created by a stationary point charge, which is the same as the law of Coulomb? If I am not mistaken, due to ...
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Transformer ratios - 1:2 vs 50:100

I am only the equivalent of a high school student, so please, if possible, don't answer this question with anything too complex or really advanced university level. I am very happy to research new ...
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If a credit card won't read when swiped, does wrapping it in plastic actually help and if so, why?

I've on occasion seen when a cashier has trouble getting a credit card to read, will wrap it in a thin plastic grocery bag, and try swiping it again. Much to my surprise, it seemed to work. Since the ...
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Electromagnetic waves should stop while encountering a conducting shell?

I am a high school student who has just started reading elementary electromagnetism and am a completely beginner in this subject. I have read in books that EM waves are nothing but sinusoidal ...
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Is it possible to mathematically derive the formula for resistance?

Resistance is given by $\rho L/A$, where $\rho$ is the material constant, $L$ is the length, and $A$ is the area. Is there any way that this can be derived mathematically, or is the only way ...
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Form of the Classical EM Lagrangian

So I know that for an electromagnetic field in a vacuum the Lagrangian is $\mathcal L=-\frac 1 4 F^{\mu\nu} F_{\mu\nu}$, the standard model tells me this. What I want to know is if there is an ...
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Can microwaves affect WiFi?

I listen to the radio via my iPad with wifi. When I switch the microwave oven on, the radio cuts out. When the microwave oven is finished, the radio comes back on. (This is 100% reproducible!) So - ...
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What is the physical meaning/concept behind Legendre polynomials?

In mathematical physics and other textbooks we find the Legendre polynomials are solutions of Legendre's differential equations. But I didn't understand where we encounter Legendre's differential ...
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Essential background for QFT study

The preface to Mark Srednicki's "Quantum Field Theory" says that to be prepared for the book, one must recognize and understand the following equations: $$\frac{d\sigma}{d\Omega} = ...
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How do you determine power flow direction in a transmission line?

Below is a picture of a typical transmission line(about 200 kV). Is there a simple physics experiment which can be performed safely near the line, to determine the power flow direction. Or in other ...