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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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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Protons' repulsion within a nucleus

Do the protons inside the nucleus repel each other by the electrostatic force? If they do, why doesn't the repulsion drive the protons apart so that the nuclei get disintegrated?
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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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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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300 views

How do higher-order optical chiralities look like?

The optical chirality of the electromagnetic field is a conserved quantity, analogous to the energy density, linear momentum density, and angular momentum density, which describes how chiral the EM ...
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418 views

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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No magnetic dipole moment for photon

Electrically neutral particles such as neutrinos can have nonvanishing magnetic dipole moments. Spin-1 particles, e.g., deuterium nuclei, can also have dipole moments. Googling seems to show that the ...
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270 views

How can I find the position of an image charge when the boundary is parabolic or hyperbolic?

If the position of some charge $Q$ is known, the boundary condition is $u=0$ on some parabolic surface, and we know the image charge has its electric volume of $Q'$, then how can I determine the ...
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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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Electromagnetic fields vs electromagnetic radiation

As I understand, light is what is more generally called "electromagnetic radiation", right? The energy radiated by a star, by an antenna, by a light bulb, by your cell phone, etc.. are all the same ...
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501 views

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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889 views

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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831 views

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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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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634 views

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} = |f(\theta,\phi)|^2,...
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How many atoms per light year does light encounter when traversing interstellar space?

Interstellar space is pretty empty but there a small number of of atoms (mostly hydrogen?) floating around. How many atoms per light year would a photon encounter while traversing interstellar space?
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What mechanisms allow conductors to be transparent?

An electric field in a conductor causes charges to redistribute so as to cancel out the original field, bringing the field to zero. This is, I think, a common argument for why conductors are generally ...
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7answers
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Why don't waves erase out each other when looking onto a wall?

If I stand exactly in front of a colorful wall, I imagine the light waves they emit, and they receive should randomly double or erase out each other. So as a result, I imagine I should see a weird ...
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Why Does Light Not Become Polarized In A Magnetic and/or Electric Field?

I am familiar with the Faraday Effect, but I remain confused as to why the electric and/or magnetic components of light do not naturally align themselves with a magnetic or electric field (in a vacuum)...
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534 views

Are EM radiation and EM waves the same thing?

Are EM radiation and EM waves the same thing? I have seen this topics treated separately in many books. It is still not clear to me whether EM radiation and EM waves are synonymous. Is there any ...
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What direction does the evanescent wave point?

On wikipedia they say that the evanescent wave has a magnitude of: $$E=E_0 e^{\alpha y-j\beta x}$$ Where $j=\sqrt{-1}$, but what direction does this vector point in and why? (let us say the boundary ...
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Can a magnet damage a compass?

I've heard the claim before that a magnet can ruin a compass, and was about to repeat it to my son when I realized it sounds like complete nonsense. Googling turned up such unsubstantiated and ...
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Rough, easy DIY method of measuring magnetic field strength

How to easily, using standard DIY equipment measure the strength of magnetic field generated by a permanent magnet? Narrowing down the "loose language" of the above: strength of magnetic field: ...
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What is the minimum wavelength of electromagnetic radiation?

As a first approximation, I don't see how a wavelength of less than 2 Planck distances could exist. The question is: Are there any other limits that would come into play before that? For example: ...
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555 views

Motivation for Potentials

This is a hypothetical question about "pedagogy". Let's say I am trying to take someone who has just a very small amount of knowledge about Newtonian mechanics and convince them that the Lagrangian ...
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What is reason for electronic compass calibration?

Most GPS receivers and smart phones contain an "electronic compass", which I understand is generally a Hall effect magnetometer. These devices generally require "calibration", which involves waving ...
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652 views

Magnets arranged in a sphere

If I was to take a bunch of magnets and arrange them in a sphere (And keep them there with glue or plastic or something) so that the north pole faces the outside of the sphere and the south pole faces ...
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How does reflection work?

In Newton's model of light as being composed of particles, it's easy to imagine reflection as being the rebounding of individual corpuscles off a surface. However, since light can also behave like a ...
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How Special Relativity causes magnetism

So my physics teacher assigned us an article about how special relativity causes magnetism in a wire with a current, even with the low drift velocities of electrons in a current. It seemed that the ...
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Would a spinning, evenly charged sphere generate a magnetic field?

I could see how it would go either way. On the one hand, there IS moving charge; on the other hand, it is not discernibly moving.
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Do image charges radiate?

Suppose I have a charge moving back and forth above an infinite, grounded, conducting plane. Can I calculate the total radiated power by using image charges? That is, are the scalar and vector ...
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How can I explain or demonstrate the Lorentz Force to a 12 year old?

I'm a space physicist. I've been working with a group of school students (aged between around 10 and 12) exploring the Sun, the Earth and the solar system. We've talked about some basics of magnetism ...
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Charge on Sphere due to Contact with Capacitor

Question: Consider a parallel plate capacitor which is connected to potential difference $V$. Let there be a small spherical conductor, assume that its radius is much smaller than the distance ...
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659 views

What's the explanation for the Giant Magnetoresistance effect?

I've been reading this review on Giant Magnetoresistance, and something about it is bothering me. The basic effect is that, using a special "stack" of layers (alternating between ferromagnetic and not ...
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276 views

What are the characteristics of light entering a disk spinning at near $c$?

If I were to spin a translucent disk so that the edge is spinning at .9c and shoot a laser beam at it perpendicular to the edge, what would happen to the light as it travels in one end of the disc and ...
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231 views

Theorems on instability of classical systems of charged particles?

Classically, a hydrogen atom should not be stable, since it should radiate away all its energy. I remember hearing from my favorite freshman physics prof ca. 1983 about a general theorem to the effect ...
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Formulation of Transformation optics using a Material Manifold

Dear Community, recently, Transformation optics celebrates some sort of scientific revival due to its (possible) applications for cloaking, see e.g. Broadband Invisibility by Non-Euclidean Cloaking ...
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Why does a ceiling fan start up slowly? [closed]

I think it probably has something to do with the capacitor inside but I don't get it why doesn't it just Start spinning instantly when we push the button why does it slowly start to spin and gradually ...
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Why does the “Troll-Mobile” not work?

See image: If I'm not totally dumb the car would move when the right magnet would not be attached to the car, at same distance of the booth magnets. So why would it not move?
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Why doesn't more light bounce off of things in the manner of sound?

If I'm sitting in the den with my door slightly cracked, I can hear my wife washing dishes in the kitchen down the hall. But why can't I also 'see' images of her washing dishes if, say, I looked up on ...
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What is the origin of the factor of $-1/4$ in the Maxwell Lagrangian?

I have seen numerous 'derivations' of the Maxwell Lagrangian, $$\mathcal{L} ~=~ -\frac{1}{4}F_{\mu \nu}F^{\mu \nu},$$ but every one has sneakily inserted a factor of $-1/4$ without explaining why. ...
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How do superconducting materials float in magnetic field?

The movie Avatar got me interested in the subject, but so far I only found sophisticated articles loaded with unfamiliar words. Is there a simple way to explain how magnetic field affects ...
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Electromagnetic Field as a Connection in a Vector Bundle

I would like to know more about Ehresmann connections in vector bundles and how they relate to the electromagnetic field and the electron in quantum mechanics. Background: The Schrödinger equation ...
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Are Classical Field Theory and Quantum Mechanics of a single particle (nonrelativistic or “classical”) limits of Quantum Field Theory?

Recently I talked about QFT with another physicist and mentioned that the Quantum Field Theory of a fermion is a quantisation of its one-particle quantum mechanical theory. He denied this and ...
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How is a spherical electromagnetic wave emitted from an antenna described in terms of photons?

When an atenna transmits radiowaves isn't it true that the electromagnetic pulse is radiated away from the accelerating electron as a spherical wave in all directions simultaneously, and if so how can ...
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How do permanent magnets manage to focus field on one side?

The actuator of a hard drive head consists of two very strong neodymium magnets, with an electromagnetic coil between them. If you take that apart, the magnets attract each other very strongly. There'...
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Why does a ring falling through a magnetic field experience an upward force?

The Problem states: A metallic ring of Mass $M$ and radius $r$ falls freely under the influence of gravity in the direction along the negative Z-axis. A magnetic field $B_z = B_0(1-z\lambda)$ ...