Electric Forces and Fields

  • Jay Newman

In this chapter we begin our study of electromagnetism, one of the four fundamental interactions in nature. Aside from gravity, ultimately all of the forces that we are familiar with are due to electromagnetic interactions; pushes and pulls, normal, frictional, tension, compression, shear, and viscous forces are all electromagnetic in origin. Other forces that we learn about are also electromagnetic, including the historically diverse electric and magnetic forces as well as all the various chemical bonding forces. In fact, all of chemistry (other than nuclear chemistry) is basically electromagnetic in origin. Even more surprising is that light and other forms of (nonnuclear) radiation are electromagnetic in nature and can exert electromagnetic forces. Optics, the science of light, is thus also a branch of electromagnetism.

The basic laws of electromagnetism were developed over a 50 year span in the 19th century, culminating in Maxwell’s four fundamental equations. Maxwell’s equations...


Electric Charge Point Charge Electric Force Test Charge External Charge 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jay Newman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physics and AstronomyUnion CollegeSchenectadyUSA

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