# How was it found that a charge produces an electric field rather than a 'local' electric force?

If we have two like charges separated by some distance $$d$$, we know there is an force on each due to the other. How can we move from this into the idea of electric field?

In the sense that the electric field means the charge has it's influence throughout space without regard to another charge being present or not? Or is it just a mathematical convenience to define electric field?

I can't imagine an experimental test for this because to detect the field , we must measure, so it is not possible to say if the field causing the force was pre-existing or came into existence due to our measurement via a test charge.

• The question may not be phrased in the best way, feel free to edit if you think you can explain the idea I have better. Jun 23, 2021 at 11:07
• I think that your wording is excellent. Your question is closely related to the nineteenth century debate about action-at-a-distance between charges, where the only role of the intervening space was to provide the separation between the charges, and the field theory of interaction. I suppose that the tide started to turn in favour of the field theory when it was demonstrated that the interaction between distant charges is not instantaneous. But let's hope for some good answers... Jun 23, 2021 at 11:27