The unification of electricity and magnetism was one of the great achievements of science. Inspired by the need to explain the nature of light, scientists discovered that visible light is just one part of the electromagnetic spectrum; a kind of energy made up of both an electric and a magnetic field that move together to make a wave in space.
Electromagnetism is the study of one of the four fundamental forces in nature - the electromagnetic force. The electromagnetic force mediates interactions between charged particles. Many of the physical phenomena seen every day are due to some combination of electricity and magnetism. Since these phenomena are so apparent, scientists have been studying them for centuries.
This does not mean however, that electromagnetism is purely a classical area of physics. Maxwell’s equations, devised in 1863 to represent the relationships between electric and magnetic fields in the presence of electric charges and currents, are remarkably consistent with the theory of special relativity formulated by Einstein nearly 50 years later.
One of the great laws of electromagnetism is Faraday’s law of induction, which states that a changing magnetic field produces an induced electromagnetic force. This process of induction is the basis for generators, transformers, tape recording, computer memory and many other things instrumental to modern life.
There is still much to understand in the field of electromagnetism, incorporating magnetic monopoles into electromagnetic theory, for example, would bring physicists closer to their ultimate goal of a theory of everything.
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We don’t know what causes lightning, how much of it there is, nor how to predict it. As global temperatures increase, so does lightning; as lightning increases, so do global temperatures. Its impact on atmospheric chemistry is still being explored.
Delve deeper into lightning
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Delve deeper into entropy
For subatomic particles, electrons are pretty well understood. But we still don’t know what they are, where they are, nor how they spin nor what spin is.
Delve deeper into electrons
Blog posts about electromagnetism
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