I'm reading about the propagation of EM waves in vacuum.

We define the wave equation using two constants: $\epsilon_0$ and $\mu_0$. Of course they are absolute permittivity and absolute permeability of free space. I've read they have capacitive and inductive properties, I want to know how do we describe it physically?

Or, if I could put it this way: I want to understand the purpose of the inductive and capacitive properties of these constants in the propagation of the waves.

  • $\begingroup$ Notice that $c = 1/\sqrt{\varepsilon_0 \mu_0}$. Therefore, the speed of light depends on those parameters. If the vacuum would have infinite capacity and zero inductivity, light would propagate infinitely fast, I'd say. This is just a thought, not a proper answer, though. $\endgroup$ – Martin Ueding Feb 20 '14 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ Of course.My concern is the need of conceptualizing it in terms of permittivity and permeability.I'm more interested in propagation itself and not the speed of it. $\endgroup$ – vivek Feb 20 '14 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ I see. That is the point where I do not have much intuition either, so I am looking forward to an answer as well :-) $\endgroup$ – Martin Ueding Feb 20 '14 at 15:21

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