One question has been bugging me ever since I started learning physics, the textbooks successfully describe the empirical observations but haven't given any reasoning behind it.

What I want to understand is what is responsible at the lowest level for the interaction between charges,i.e, how does one charge know the other is present. And for gravity what is responsible for the particles to attract one-another.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Related: physics.stackexchange.com/q/116608/2451 and links therein. $\endgroup$
    – Qmechanic
    Jul 14 '16 at 3:50
  • $\begingroup$ It's not just the textbooks doing that, that's how science works, in general. Science strives to successfully describe empirical observations without giving any reasoning behind those descriptions. $\endgroup$
    – CuriousOne
    Jul 14 '16 at 4:37
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ In a sense there are no contact forces. It's just that in Normal forces the electrons in both materials are responsible on a much smaller scale than the rest of the object. $\endgroup$
    – AHusain
    Jul 14 '16 at 4:45
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ "What I want to understand is what is responsible at the lowest level for the interaction between charges..."... that's pretty much what physicists are trying to understand, too, but the problem is that every time we find a lower level explanation, it turns out to be full of holes, so we need an even lower level one. This may resolve itself, one day, but if it does, that day is going to be a long time from now, but it's more likely that we will never find that "lowest of explanations". Until then you will have to study classical mechanics, electrodynamics, quantum mechanics etc.. $\endgroup$
    – CuriousOne
    Jul 14 '16 at 5:24

In quantum field theory, vector bosons are subatomic particles known as force carriers which are the quanta of their respective fields. For instance, the photon is the quanta of the electromagnetic field, thereby mediating the electromagnetic force. In particle physics, fundamental forces are seen to arise from the emission and absorption of virtual particles (i.e., particles which exist for a limited interval of time).

Let's consider the electromagnetic interaction between two, negatively charged electrons. According to quantum field theory, one of these particles will emit virtual photon which will be, shortly after, absorbed by the other, thereby transferring momentum from the emitting electron to the electron that absorbed the electromagnetic quanta. In fact, these types of processes can be nicely visualized using Feynman diagrams (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feynman_diagram). Here's the diagram for the exchange of a photon between two electrons as discussed earlier.

enter image description here

However, when it comes to gravity, it has yet to be described by quantum field theory. Nevertheless, many believe the gravitational field can be quantized into a spin 2, massive gauge boson (i.e., the graviton). In this model, which, might I add, has yet to be confirmed or disproved, would work in the same fashion as that of the electromagnetic force. As to mediate the gravitational force, a graviton would be exchanged between two particles that make up the Standard Model, thereby ensuring a transfer of momentum between the interacting particles.

  • $\begingroup$ Are there more models to explain this phenomenon? $\endgroup$ Jul 19 '16 at 4:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.