Electromagnetic field

Encyclopedia

An

produced by moving electrically charged objects

. It affects the behavior of charged objects in the vicinity of the field. The electromagnetic field extends indefinitely throughout space and describes the electromagnetic interaction

. It is one of the four fundamental forces of nature (the others are gravitation

, the weak interaction

, and the strong interaction

).

The field can be viewed as the combination of an electric field

and a magnetic field

. The electric field is produced by stationary charges, and the magnetic field by moving charges (currents); these two are often described as the sources of the field. The way in which charges and currents interact with the electromagnetic field is described by Maxwell's equations

and the Lorentz force law.

From a classical

perspective, the electromagnetic field can be regarded as a smooth, continuous field, propagated in a wavelike manner; whereas from the perspective of quantum field theory

, the field is seen as quantized, being composed of individual particle

s.

transmitter

appear to transfer energy continuously. This view is useful to a certain extent (radiation of low frequency), but problems are found at high frequencies (see ultraviolet catastrophe

).

(in this case, photon

s) with a fixed frequency. Planck's relation links the energy of a photon to its frequency through the equation:

where is Planck's constant, named in honor of Max Planck

, and is the frequency of the photon . Although modern quantum optics tells us that there also is a semi-classical explanation of the photoelectric effect

—the emission of electrons from metallic surfaces subjected to electromagnetic radiation

— the photon was historically (although strictly unnecessarily) used to explain certain observations. It is found that increasing the intensity of the incident radiation (so long as one remains in the linear regime) increases only the number of electrons ejected, and has almost no effect on the energy distribution of their ejection. Only the frequency of the radiation is relevant to the energy of the ejected electrons.

This quantum

picture of the electromagnetic field (which treats it as analogous to harmonic oscillators) has proved very successful, giving rise to quantum electrodynamics

, a quantum field theory

describing the interaction of electromagnetic radiation with charged matter. It also gives rise to Quantum optics

, which is different from quantum electrodynamics in that the matter itself is modelled using quantum mechanics

rather than Quantum field theory

.

Once this electromagnetic field has been produced from a given charge distribution, other charged objects in this field will experience a force (in a similar way that planets experience a force in the gravitational field of the Sun). If these other charges and currents are comparable in size to the sources producing the above electromagnetic field, then a new net electromagnetic field will be produced. Thus, the electromagnetic field may be viewed as a dynamic entity that causes other charges and currents to move, and which is also affected by them. These interactions are described by Maxwell's equations

and the Lorentz force law. (This discussion ignores the radiation reaction force.)

A common misunderstanding is that the quanta in the field are the same as the charged particles that generate the fields. In our everyday world, charged

- approximately 300 thousand kilometers (or 186 thousand miles) a second. The mundane speed difference between charged particles and field quanta is on the order of one to a million, more or less. Maxwell's equations

relate the presence and movement of charged particles with the generation of fields, that can then affect the force on, and move, other slowly moving charged particles. Charged particles can move at relativistic speeds nearing field propagation speeds, but, as Einstein showed, this requires enormous field energies, which are not present in our everyday experiences with electricity, magnetism, matter, and time.

The feedback loop can be summarized in a list, including phenomena belonging to each part of the loop:

s. These vector fields each have a value defined at every point of space and time and are thus often regarded as functions of the space and time coordinates. As such, they are often written as (electric field

) and (magnetic field

).

If only the electric field

() is non-zero, and is constant in time, the field is said to be an electrostatic field. Similarly, if only the magnetic field

() is non-zero and is constant in time, the field is said to be a magnetostatic field. However, if either the electric or magnetic field has a time-dependence, then both fields must be considered together as a coupled electromagnetic field using Maxwell's equationsMaxwell's equations are a set of partial differential equations that, together with the Lorentz force law, form the foundation of classical electrodynamics, classical optics, and electric circuits. These fields in turn underlie modern electrical and communications technologies.Maxwell's equations...

.

With the advent of special relativity

, physical laws became susceptible to the formalism of tensor

s. Maxwell's equations can be written in tensor form, generally viewed by physicists as a more elegant means of expressing physical laws.

The behaviour of electric and magnetic fields, whether in cases of electrostatics, magnetostatics, or electrodynamics (electromagnetic fields), is governed in a vacuum by Maxwell's equations. In the vector field formalism, these are:

(Gauss's law

)

(Gauss's law for magnetism)

(Faraday's law)

(Ampère-Maxwell law)

where is the charge density, which can (and often does) depend on time and position, is the permittivity

of free space, is the permeability

of free space, and is the current density vector, also a function of time and position. The units used above are the standard SI units. Inside a linear material, Maxwell's equations change by switching the permeability and permittivity of free space with the permeability and permittivity of the linear material in question. Inside other materials which possess more complex responses to electromagnetic fields, these terms are often represented by complex numbers, or tensors.

The Lorentz force law governs the interaction of the electromagnetic field with charged matter.

When a field travels across to different media, the properties of the field change according to the various boundary conditions. These equations are derived from Maxwell's equations.

The tangential components of the electric and magnetic fields as they relate on the boundary of two media are as follows:

(current-free)

(charge-free)

The angle of refraction of an electric field between media is related to the permittivity of each media:

The angle of refraction of a magnetic field between media is related to the permeability of each media:

Ampere's Law roughly states that 'a changing electric field creates a magnetic field'. Thus, this law can be applied to generate a magnetic field and run an electric motor

.

Maxwell's equations are a set of partial differential equations that, together with the Lorentz force law, form the foundation of classical electrodynamics, classical optics, and electric circuits. These fields in turn underlie modern electrical and communications technologies.Maxwell's equations...

take the form of an electromagnetic wave in an area that is very far away from any charges or currents (free space) – that is, where and are zero. It can be shown, that, under these conditions, the electric and magnetic fields satisfy the electromagnetic wave equation

:

James Clerk Maxwell

was the first to obtain this relationship by his completion of Maxwell's equationsMaxwell's equations are a set of partial differential equations that, together with the Lorentz force law, form the foundation of classical electrodynamics, classical optics, and electric circuits. These fields in turn underlie modern electrical and communications technologies.Maxwell's equations...

with the addition of a displacement current

term to Ampere's Circuital law.

and weak

fields. The word 'force' is sometimes replaced by 'interaction' because the fundamental forces operate by exchanging what are now known to be gauge boson

s.

– positive and negative. This contrasts with the sources of the gravitational field, which are masses. Masses are sometimes described as

es), or, in more colloquial terms, 'gravity is always attractive'.

The relative strengths and ranges of the four interactions and other information are tabulated below:

, whether directly or indirectly. Electromagnetic radiation, being generated by everything that uses electricity, affects all aspects of life.

Properties of the electromagnetic field are exploited in many areas of industry. The use of electromagnetic radiation is seen in various disciplines. For example, X-rays are high frequency electromagnetic radiation and are used in radiography

in medicine. Other forms of electromagnetic radiation are used in radio astronomy

and radiometry

in telecommunications. Other medical applications include laser therapy, which is an example of photomedicine

. Food safety applications include industrial metal detectors. Applications of lasers

are found in military devices such as laser-guided bomb

s, as well as more down to earth devices such as barcode reader

s and CD players. Something as simple as a relay in any electrical device uses an electromagnetic field to engage or to disengage the two different states of output (i.e., when electricity is not applied, the metal strip will connect output A and B, but if electricity is applied, an electromagnetic field will be created and the metal strip will connect output A and C).

The potential health effects of the very low frequency EMFs surrounding power lines and electrical devices are the subject of on-going research and a significant amount of public debate. In workplace environments, where EMF exposures can be up to 10,000 times greater than the average, the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

(NIOSH) has issued some cautionary advisories but stresses that the data is currently too limited to draw good conclusions.

The potential effects of electromagnetic fields on human health vary widely depending on the frequency and intensity of the fields. For more information on the health effects due to specific parts of the electromagnetic spectrum

, see the following articles:

**electromagnetic field**(also**EMF**or**EM field**) is a physical fieldField (physics)

In physics, a field is a physical quantity associated with each point of spacetime. A field can be classified as a scalar field, a vector field, a spinor field, or a tensor field according to whether the value of the field at each point is a scalar, a vector, a spinor or, more generally, a tensor,...

produced by moving electrically charged objects

Electric charge

Electric charge is a physical property of matter that causes it to experience a force when near other electrically charged matter. Electric charge comes in two types, called positive and negative. Two positively charged substances, or objects, experience a mutual repulsive force, as do two...

. It affects the behavior of charged objects in the vicinity of the field. The electromagnetic field extends indefinitely throughout space and describes the electromagnetic interaction

Electromagnetism

Electromagnetism is one of the four fundamental interactions in nature. The other three are the strong interaction, the weak interaction and gravitation...

. It is one of the four fundamental forces of nature (the others are gravitation

Gravitation

Gravitation, or gravity, is a natural phenomenon by which physical bodies attract with a force proportional to their mass. Gravitation is most familiar as the agent that gives weight to objects with mass and causes them to fall to the ground when dropped...

, the weak interaction

Weak interaction

Weak interaction , is one of the four fundamental forces of nature, alongside the strong nuclear force, electromagnetism, and gravity. It is responsible for the radioactive decay of subatomic particles and initiates the process known as hydrogen fusion in stars...

, and the strong interaction

Strong interaction

In particle physics, the strong interaction is one of the four fundamental interactions of nature, the others being electromagnetism, the weak interaction and gravitation. As with the other fundamental interactions, it is a non-contact force...

).

The field can be viewed as the combination of an electric field

Electric field

In physics, an electric field surrounds electrically charged particles and time-varying magnetic fields. The electric field depicts the force exerted on other electrically charged objects by the electrically charged particle the field is surrounding...

and a magnetic field

Magnetic field

A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...

. The electric field is produced by stationary charges, and the magnetic field by moving charges (currents); these two are often described as the sources of the field. The way in which charges and currents interact with the electromagnetic field is described by Maxwell's equations

Maxwell's equations

Maxwell's equations are a set of partial differential equations that, together with the Lorentz force law, form the foundation of classical electrodynamics, classical optics, and electric circuits. These fields in turn underlie modern electrical and communications technologies.Maxwell's equations...

and the Lorentz force law.

From a classical

Classical physics

What "classical physics" refers to depends on the context. When discussing special relativity, it refers to the Newtonian physics which preceded relativity, i.e. the branches of physics based on principles developed before the rise of relativity and quantum mechanics...

perspective, the electromagnetic field can be regarded as a smooth, continuous field, propagated in a wavelike manner; whereas from the perspective of quantum field theory

Quantum field theory

Quantum field theory provides a theoretical framework for constructing quantum mechanical models of systems classically parametrized by an infinite number of dynamical degrees of freedom, that is, fields and many-body systems. It is the natural and quantitative language of particle physics and...

, the field is seen as quantized, being composed of individual particle

Subatomic particle

In physics or chemistry, subatomic particles are the smaller particles composing nucleons and atoms. There are two types of subatomic particles: elementary particles, which are not made of other particles, and composite particles...

s.

## Structure of the electromagnetic field

The electromagnetic field may be viewed in two distinct ways: a continuous structure or a discrete structure.### Continuous structure

Classically, electric and magnetic fields are thought of as being produced by smooth motions of charged objects. For example, oscillating charges produce electric and magnetic fields that may be viewed in a 'smooth', continuous, wavelike fashion. In this case, energy is viewed as being transferred continuously through the electromagnetic field between any two locations. For instance, the metal atoms in a radioRadio

Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

transmitter

Transmitter

In electronics and telecommunications a transmitter or radio transmitter is an electronic device which, with the aid of an antenna, produces radio waves. The transmitter itself generates a radio frequency alternating current, which is applied to the antenna. When excited by this alternating...

appear to transfer energy continuously. This view is useful to a certain extent (radiation of low frequency), but problems are found at high frequencies (see ultraviolet catastrophe

Ultraviolet catastrophe

The ultraviolet catastrophe, also called the Rayleigh–Jeans catastrophe, was a prediction of late 19th century/early 20th century classical physics that an ideal black body at thermal equilibrium will emit radiation with infinite power....

).

### Discrete structure

The electromagnetic field may be thought of in a more 'coarse' way. Experiments reveal that in some circumstances electromagnetic energy transfer is better described as being carried in the form of packets called quantaQuantum

In physics, a quantum is the minimum amount of any physical entity involved in an interaction. Behind this, one finds the fundamental notion that a physical property may be "quantized," referred to as "the hypothesis of quantization". This means that the magnitude can take on only certain discrete...

(in this case, photon

Photon

In physics, a photon is an elementary particle, the quantum of the electromagnetic interaction and the basic unit of light and all other forms of electromagnetic radiation. It is also the force carrier for the electromagnetic force...

s) with a fixed frequency. Planck's relation links the energy of a photon to its frequency through the equation:

where is Planck's constant, named in honor of Max Planck

Max Planck

Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, ForMemRS, was a German physicist who actualized the quantum physics, initiating a revolution in natural science and philosophy. He is regarded as the founder of the quantum theory, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.-Life and career:Planck came...

, and is the frequency of the photon . Although modern quantum optics tells us that there also is a semi-classical explanation of the photoelectric effect

Photoelectric effect

In the photoelectric effect, electrons are emitted from matter as a consequence of their absorption of energy from electromagnetic radiation of very short wavelength, such as visible or ultraviolet light. Electrons emitted in this manner may be referred to as photoelectrons...

—the emission of electrons from metallic surfaces subjected to electromagnetic radiation

Electromagnetic radiation

Electromagnetic radiation is a form of energy that exhibits wave-like behavior as it travels through space...

— the photon was historically (although strictly unnecessarily) used to explain certain observations. It is found that increasing the intensity of the incident radiation (so long as one remains in the linear regime) increases only the number of electrons ejected, and has almost no effect on the energy distribution of their ejection. Only the frequency of the radiation is relevant to the energy of the ejected electrons.

This quantum

Quantum

In physics, a quantum is the minimum amount of any physical entity involved in an interaction. Behind this, one finds the fundamental notion that a physical property may be "quantized," referred to as "the hypothesis of quantization". This means that the magnitude can take on only certain discrete...

picture of the electromagnetic field (which treats it as analogous to harmonic oscillators) has proved very successful, giving rise to quantum electrodynamics

Quantum electrodynamics

Quantum electrodynamics is the relativistic quantum field theory of electrodynamics. In essence, it describes how light and matter interact and is the first theory where full agreement between quantum mechanics and special relativity is achieved...

, a quantum field theory

Quantum field theory

Quantum field theory provides a theoretical framework for constructing quantum mechanical models of systems classically parametrized by an infinite number of dynamical degrees of freedom, that is, fields and many-body systems. It is the natural and quantitative language of particle physics and...

describing the interaction of electromagnetic radiation with charged matter. It also gives rise to Quantum optics

Quantum optics

Quantum optics is a field of research in physics, dealing with the application of quantum mechanics to phenomena involving light and its interactions with matter.- History of quantum optics :...

, which is different from quantum electrodynamics in that the matter itself is modelled using quantum mechanics

Quantum mechanics

Quantum mechanics, also known as quantum physics or quantum theory, is a branch of physics providing a mathematical description of much of the dual particle-like and wave-like behavior and interactions of energy and matter. It departs from classical mechanics primarily at the atomic and subatomic...

rather than Quantum field theory

Quantum field theory

Quantum field theory provides a theoretical framework for constructing quantum mechanical models of systems classically parametrized by an infinite number of dynamical degrees of freedom, that is, fields and many-body systems. It is the natural and quantitative language of particle physics and...

.

## Dynamics of the electromagnetic field

In the past, electrically charged objects were thought to produce two different, unrelated types of field associated with their charge property. An**electric field**is produced when the charge is stationary with respect to an observer measuring the properties of the charge, and a**magnetic field**(as well as an electric field) is produced when the charge moves (creating an electric current) with respect to this observer. Over time, it was realized that the electric and magnetic fields are better thought of as two parts of a greater whole — the electromagnetic field.Once this electromagnetic field has been produced from a given charge distribution, other charged objects in this field will experience a force (in a similar way that planets experience a force in the gravitational field of the Sun). If these other charges and currents are comparable in size to the sources producing the above electromagnetic field, then a new net electromagnetic field will be produced. Thus, the electromagnetic field may be viewed as a dynamic entity that causes other charges and currents to move, and which is also affected by them. These interactions are described by Maxwell's equations

Maxwell's equations

Maxwell's equations are a set of partial differential equations that, together with the Lorentz force law, form the foundation of classical electrodynamics, classical optics, and electric circuits. These fields in turn underlie modern electrical and communications technologies.Maxwell's equations...

and the Lorentz force law. (This discussion ignores the radiation reaction force.)

## The electromagnetic field as a feedback loop

The behavior of the electromagnetic field can be resolved into four different parts of a loop:- the electric and magnetic fields are generated by electric charges,
- the electric and magnetic fields interact only with each other,
- the electric and magnetic fields produce forces on electric charges,
- the electric charges move in space.

A common misunderstanding is that the quanta in the field are the same as the charged particles that generate the fields. In our everyday world, charged

**particles**, such as electrons, move slowly through matter typically on the order of a few inches (or centimeters) per second, but**fields**propagate at the speed of lightSpeed of light

The speed of light in vacuum, usually denoted by c, is a physical constant important in many areas of physics. Its value is 299,792,458 metres per second, a figure that is exact since the length of the metre is defined from this constant and the international standard for time...

- approximately 300 thousand kilometers (or 186 thousand miles) a second. The mundane speed difference between charged particles and field quanta is on the order of one to a million, more or less. Maxwell's equations

Maxwell's equations

Maxwell's equations are a set of partial differential equations that, together with the Lorentz force law, form the foundation of classical electrodynamics, classical optics, and electric circuits. These fields in turn underlie modern electrical and communications technologies.Maxwell's equations...

relate the presence and movement of charged particles with the generation of fields, that can then affect the force on, and move, other slowly moving charged particles. Charged particles can move at relativistic speeds nearing field propagation speeds, but, as Einstein showed, this requires enormous field energies, which are not present in our everyday experiences with electricity, magnetism, matter, and time.

The feedback loop can be summarized in a list, including phenomena belonging to each part of the loop:

- charged particles generate electric and magnetic fields
- the fields interact with each other
- changing electric field acts like a current, generating 'vortex' of magnetic field
- Faraday inductionFaraday's law of inductionFaraday's law of induction dates from the 1830s, and is a basic law of electromagnetism relating to the operating principles of transformers, inductors, and many types of electrical motors and generators...

: changing magnetic field induces (negative) vortex of electric field - Lenz's lawLenz's lawLenz's law is a common way of understanding how electromagnetic circuits must always obey Newton's third law and The Law of Conservation of Energy...

: negative feedback loop between electric and magnetic fields

- fields act upon particles
- Lorentz force: force due to electromagnetic field
- electric force: same direction as electric field
- magnetic force: perpendicular both to magnetic field and to velocity of charge

- Lorentz force: force due to electromagnetic field
- particles move
- current is movement of particles

- particles generate more electric and magnetic fields; cycle repeats

## Mathematical description

There are different mathematical ways of representing the electromagnetic field. The first one views the electric and magnetic fields as three-dimensional vector fieldVector field

In vector calculus, a vector field is an assignmentof a vector to each point in a subset of Euclidean space. A vector field in the plane for instance can be visualized as an arrow, with a given magnitude and direction, attached to each point in the plane...

s. These vector fields each have a value defined at every point of space and time and are thus often regarded as functions of the space and time coordinates. As such, they are often written as (electric field

Electric field

In physics, an electric field surrounds electrically charged particles and time-varying magnetic fields. The electric field depicts the force exerted on other electrically charged objects by the electrically charged particle the field is surrounding...

) and (magnetic field

Magnetic field

A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...

).

If only the electric field

Electric field

In physics, an electric field surrounds electrically charged particles and time-varying magnetic fields. The electric field depicts the force exerted on other electrically charged objects by the electrically charged particle the field is surrounding...

() is non-zero, and is constant in time, the field is said to be an electrostatic field. Similarly, if only the magnetic field

Magnetic field

A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of electric currents and magnetic materials. The magnetic field at any given point is specified by both a direction and a magnitude ; as such it is a vector field.Technically, a magnetic field is a pseudo vector;...

() is non-zero and is constant in time, the field is said to be a magnetostatic field. However, if either the electric or magnetic field has a time-dependence, then both fields must be considered together as a coupled electromagnetic field using Maxwell's equations

Maxwell's equations

.

With the advent of special relativity

Special relativity

Special relativity is the physical theory of measurement in an inertial frame of reference proposed in 1905 by Albert Einstein in the paper "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies".It generalizes Galileo's...

, physical laws became susceptible to the formalism of tensor

Tensor

Tensors are geometric objects that describe linear relations between vectors, scalars, and other tensors. Elementary examples include the dot product, the cross product, and linear maps. Vectors and scalars themselves are also tensors. A tensor can be represented as a multi-dimensional array of...

s. Maxwell's equations can be written in tensor form, generally viewed by physicists as a more elegant means of expressing physical laws.

The behaviour of electric and magnetic fields, whether in cases of electrostatics, magnetostatics, or electrodynamics (electromagnetic fields), is governed in a vacuum by Maxwell's equations. In the vector field formalism, these are:

(Gauss's law

Gauss's law

In physics, Gauss's law, also known as Gauss's flux theorem, is a law relating the distribution of electric charge to the resulting electric field. Gauss's law states that:...

)

(Gauss's law for magnetism)

(Faraday's law)

(Ampère-Maxwell law)

where is the charge density, which can (and often does) depend on time and position, is the permittivity

Permittivity

In electromagnetism, absolute permittivity is the measure of the resistance that is encountered when forming an electric field in a medium. In other words, permittivity is a measure of how an electric field affects, and is affected by, a dielectric medium. The permittivity of a medium describes how...

of free space, is the permeability

Permeability (electromagnetism)

In electromagnetism, permeability is the measure of the ability of a material to support the formation of a magnetic field within itself. In other words, it is the degree of magnetization that a material obtains in response to an applied magnetic field. Magnetic permeability is typically...

of free space, and is the current density vector, also a function of time and position. The units used above are the standard SI units. Inside a linear material, Maxwell's equations change by switching the permeability and permittivity of free space with the permeability and permittivity of the linear material in question. Inside other materials which possess more complex responses to electromagnetic fields, these terms are often represented by complex numbers, or tensors.

The Lorentz force law governs the interaction of the electromagnetic field with charged matter.

When a field travels across to different media, the properties of the field change according to the various boundary conditions. These equations are derived from Maxwell's equations.

The tangential components of the electric and magnetic fields as they relate on the boundary of two media are as follows:

(current-free)

(charge-free)

The angle of refraction of an electric field between media is related to the permittivity of each media:

The angle of refraction of a magnetic field between media is related to the permeability of each media:

### Reciprocal behavior of electric and magnetic fields

The two Maxwell equations, Faraday's Law and the Ampère-Maxwell Law, illustrate a very practical feature of the electromagnetic field Faraday's Law may be stated roughly as 'a changing magnetic field creates an electric field'. This is the principle behind the electric generator.Ampere's Law roughly states that 'a changing electric field creates a magnetic field'. Thus, this law can be applied to generate a magnetic field and run an electric motor

Electric motor

An electric motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy.Most electric motors operate through the interaction of magnetic fields and current-carrying conductors to generate force...

.

### Light as an electromagnetic disturbance

Maxwell's equationsMaxwell's equations

take the form of an electromagnetic wave in an area that is very far away from any charges or currents (free space) – that is, where and are zero. It can be shown, that, under these conditions, the electric and magnetic fields satisfy the electromagnetic wave equation

Electromagnetic wave equation

The electromagnetic wave equation is a second-order partial differential equation that describes the propagation of electromagnetic waves through a medium or in a vacuum...

:

James Clerk Maxwell

James Clerk Maxwell

James Clerk Maxwell of Glenlair was a Scottish physicist and mathematician. His most prominent achievement was formulating classical electromagnetic theory. This united all previously unrelated observations, experiments and equations of electricity, magnetism and optics into a consistent theory...

was the first to obtain this relationship by his completion of Maxwell's equations

Maxwell's equations

with the addition of a displacement current

Displacement current

In electromagnetism, displacement current is a quantity that is defined in terms of the rate of change of electric displacement field. Displacement current has the units of electric current density, and it has an associated magnetic field just as actual currents do. However it is not an electric...

term to Ampere's Circuital law.

## Relation to and comparison with other physical fields

Being one of the four fundamental forces of nature, it is useful to compare the electromagnetic field with the gravitational, strongStrong interaction

In particle physics, the strong interaction is one of the four fundamental interactions of nature, the others being electromagnetism, the weak interaction and gravitation. As with the other fundamental interactions, it is a non-contact force...

and weak

Weak interaction

Weak interaction , is one of the four fundamental forces of nature, alongside the strong nuclear force, electromagnetism, and gravity. It is responsible for the radioactive decay of subatomic particles and initiates the process known as hydrogen fusion in stars...

fields. The word 'force' is sometimes replaced by 'interaction' because the fundamental forces operate by exchanging what are now known to be gauge boson

Gauge boson

In particle physics, gauge bosons are bosonic particles that act as carriers of the fundamental forces of nature. More specifically, elementary particles whose interactions are described by gauge theory exert forces on each other by the exchange of gauge bosons, usually as virtual particles.-...

s.

### Electromagnetic and gravitational fields

Sources of electromagnetic fields consist of two types of chargeCharge (physics)

In physics, a charge may refer to one of many different quantities, such as the electric charge in electromagnetism or the color charge in quantum chromodynamics. Charges are associated with conserved quantum numbers.-Formal definition:...

– positive and negative. This contrasts with the sources of the gravitational field, which are masses. Masses are sometimes described as

*gravitational charges*, the important feature of them being that there is only one type (no negative massNegative mass

In theoretical physics, negative mass is a hypothetical concept of matter whose mass is of opposite sign to the mass of the normal matter. Such matter would violate one or more energy conditions and show some strange properties such as being repelled rather than attracted by gravity. It is used in...

es), or, in more colloquial terms, 'gravity is always attractive'.

The relative strengths and ranges of the four interactions and other information are tabulated below:

Theory | Interaction | mediator | Relative Magnitude | Behavior | Range |
---|---|---|---|---|---|

Chromodynamics | Strong interaction Strong interaction In particle physics, the strong interaction is one of the four fundamental interactions of nature, the others being electromagnetism, the weak interaction and gravitation. As with the other fundamental interactions, it is a non-contact force... |
gluon Gluon Gluons are elementary particles which act as the exchange particles for the color force between quarks, analogous to the exchange of photons in the electromagnetic force between two charged particles.... |
10^{38} |
1 | 10^{−15} m |

Electrodynamics | Electromagnetic interaction | photon Photon In physics, a photon is an elementary particle, the quantum of the electromagnetic interaction and the basic unit of light and all other forms of electromagnetic radiation. It is also the force carrier for the electromagnetic force... |
10^{36} |
1/r^{2} |
infinite |

Flavordynamics | Weak interaction Weak interaction Weak interaction , is one of the four fundamental forces of nature, alongside the strong nuclear force, electromagnetism, and gravity. It is responsible for the radioactive decay of subatomic particles and initiates the process known as hydrogen fusion in stars... |
W and Z bosons W and Z bosons The W and Z bosons are the elementary particles that mediate the weak interaction; their symbols are , and . The W bosons have a positive and negative electric charge of 1 elementary charge respectively and are each other's antiparticle. The Z boson is electrically neutral and its own... |
10^{25} |
1/r^{5} to 1/r^{7} |
10^{−16} m |

Geometrodynamics Geometrodynamics In theoretical physics, geometrodynamics generally denotes a program of reformulation and unification which was enthusiastically promoted by John Archibald Wheeler in the 1960s.-Einstein's geometrodynamics:... |
Gravitation Gravitation Gravitation, or gravity, is a natural phenomenon by which physical bodies attract with a force proportional to their mass. Gravitation is most familiar as the agent that gives weight to objects with mass and causes them to fall to the ground when dropped... |
graviton Graviton In physics, the graviton is a hypothetical elementary particle that mediates the force of gravitation in the framework of quantum field theory. If it exists, the graviton must be massless and must have a spin of 2... |
10^{0} |
1/r^{2} |
infinite |

## Applications

Light from the sun is the main source of energy on earthEarth

Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

, whether directly or indirectly. Electromagnetic radiation, being generated by everything that uses electricity, affects all aspects of life.

Properties of the electromagnetic field are exploited in many areas of industry. The use of electromagnetic radiation is seen in various disciplines. For example, X-rays are high frequency electromagnetic radiation and are used in radiography

Radiography

Radiography is the use of X-rays to view a non-uniformly composed material such as the human body. By using the physical properties of the ray an image can be developed which displays areas of different density and composition....

in medicine. Other forms of electromagnetic radiation are used in radio astronomy

Radio astronomy

Radio astronomy is a subfield of astronomy that studies celestial objects at radio frequencies. The initial detection of radio waves from an astronomical object was made in the 1930s, when Karl Jansky observed radiation coming from the Milky Way. Subsequent observations have identified a number of...

and radiometry

Radiometry

In optics, radiometry is a set of techniques for measuring electromagnetic radiation, including visible light. Radiometric techniques characterize the distribution of the radiation's power in space, as opposed to photometric techniques, which characterize the light's interaction with the human eye...

in telecommunications. Other medical applications include laser therapy, which is an example of photomedicine

Photomedicine

Photomedicine is an interdisciplinary branch of medicine that involves the study and application of light with respect to health and disease. Photomedicine may be related to the practice of various fields of medicine including dermatology, surgery, interventional radiology, optical diagnostics,...

. Food safety applications include industrial metal detectors. Applications of lasers

Laser applications

Many scientific, military, medical and commercial laser applications have been developed since the invention of the laser in the 1958. The coherency, high monochromaticity, and ability to reach extremely high powers are all properties which allow for these specialized applications.-Scientific:In...

are found in military devices such as laser-guided bomb

Laser-guided bomb

A laser-guided bomb is a guided bomb that uses semi-active laser homing to strike a designated target with greater accuracy than an unguided bomb. LGBs are one of the most common and widespread guided bombs, used by a large number of the world's air forces.- Overview :Laser-guided munitions use a...

s, as well as more down to earth devices such as barcode reader

Barcode reader

A barcode reader is an electronic device for reading printed barcodes. Like a flatbed scanner, it consists of a light source, a lens and a light sensor translating optical impulses into electrical ones...

s and CD players. Something as simple as a relay in any electrical device uses an electromagnetic field to engage or to disengage the two different states of output (i.e., when electricity is not applied, the metal strip will connect output A and B, but if electricity is applied, an electromagnetic field will be created and the metal strip will connect output A and C).

## Health and safety

The potential health effects of the very low frequency EMFs surrounding power lines and electrical devices are the subject of on-going research and a significant amount of public debate. In workplace environments, where EMF exposures can be up to 10,000 times greater than the average, the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is the United States’ federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention within the U.S...

(NIOSH) has issued some cautionary advisories but stresses that the data is currently too limited to draw good conclusions.

The potential effects of electromagnetic fields on human health vary widely depending on the frequency and intensity of the fields. For more information on the health effects due to specific parts of the electromagnetic spectrum

Electromagnetic spectrum

The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of all possible frequencies of electromagnetic radiation. The "electromagnetic spectrum" of an object is the characteristic distribution of electromagnetic radiation emitted or absorbed by that particular object....

, see the following articles:

- Static electric fields: see Electric shockElectric shockElectric Shock of a body with any source of electricity that causes a sufficient current through the skin, muscles or hair. Typically, the expression is used to denote an unwanted exposure to electricity, hence the effects are considered undesirable....
- Static magnetic fields: see MRI#Safety
- Extremely low frequency (ELF): see Power lines#Health concerns
- Radio frequency (RF): see Electromagnetic radiation and health
- Light: see Laser safetyLaser safetyLaser safety is safe design, use and implementation of lasers to minimize the risk of laser accidents, especially those involving eye injuries. Since even relatively small amounts of laser light can lead to permanent eye injuries, the sale and usage of lasers is typically subject to government...
- Ultraviolet (UV): see SunburnSunburnA sunburn is a burn to living tissue, such as skin, which is produced by overexposure to ultraviolet radiation, commonly from the sun's rays. Usual mild symptoms in humans and other animals include red or reddish skin that is hot to the touch, general fatigue, and mild dizziness. An excess of UV...
- Gamma rays: see Gamma rayGamma rayGamma radiation, also known as gamma rays or hyphenated as gamma-rays and denoted as γ, is electromagnetic radiation of high frequency . Gamma rays are usually naturally produced on Earth by decay of high energy states in atomic nuclei...
- Mobile telephony: see Mobile phone radiation and healthMobile phone radiation and healthThe effect of mobile phone radiation on human health is the subject of recent interest and study, as a result of the enormous increase in mobile phone usage throughout the world . Mobile phones use electromagnetic radiation in the microwave range...

## External links

- On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies by Albert EinsteinAlbert EinsteinAlbert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

, June 30, 1905. - Non-Ionizing Radiation, Part 1: Static and Extremely Low-Frequency (ELF) Electric and Magnetic Fields (2002) by the IARCInternational Agency for Research on CancerThe International Agency for Research on Cancer is an intergovernmental agency forming part of the World Health Organisation of the United Nations....

. - National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health – EMF Topic Page
- Biological Effects of Power Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields (May 1989) (over 100 pages)