<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

Action at a distance: concept of a field

All forces act at a distance. This is obvious for the gravitational force. Earth and the Moon, for example, interact without coming into contact. It is also true for all other forces. Friction, for example, is an electromagnetic force between atoms that may not actually touch. What is it that carries forces between objects? One way to answer this question is to imagine that a force field    surrounds whatever object creates the force. A second object (often called a test object ) placed in this field will experience a force that is a function of location and other variables. The field itself is the “thing” that carries the force from one object to another. The field is defined so as to be a characteristic of the object creating it; the field does not depend on the test object placed in it. Earth’s gravitational field, for example, is a function of the mass of Earth and the distance from its center, independent of the presence of other masses. The concept of a field is useful because equations can be written for force fields surrounding objects (for gravity, this yields w = mg size 12{w= ital "mg"} {} at Earth’s surface), and motions can be calculated from these equations. (See [link] .)

The electric force field between a positively charged particle and a negatively charged particle. Electric field lines start from the positive charge and end at the negative charge, and each line is represented as a curved arrow.
The electric force field between a positively charged particle and a negatively charged particle. When a positive test charge is placed in the field, the charge will experience a force in the direction of the force field lines.

Concept connections: force fields

The concept of a force field is also used in connection with electric charge and is presented in Electric Charge and Electric Field . It is also a useful idea for all the basic forces, as will be seen in Particle Physics . Fields help us to visualize forces and how they are transmitted, as well as to describe them with precision and to link forces with subatomic carrier particles.

The field concept has been applied very successfully; we can calculate motions and describe nature to high precision using field equations. As useful as the field concept is, however, it leaves unanswered the question of what carries the force. It has been proposed in recent decades, starting in 1935 with Hideki Yukawa’s (1907–1981) work on the strong nuclear force, that all forces are transmitted by the exchange of elementary particles. We can visualize particle exchange as analogous to macroscopic phenomena such as two people passing a basketball back and forth, thereby exerting a repulsive force without touching one another. (See [link] .)

(a) Two persons throwing a basketball to each other. The person on the left is throwing the ball with some force F sub p one, represented by a vector pointing right, in the direction of the motion of the ball. A reaction force F sub B is shown on the person by a vector pointing left. (b) The person catches the ball, exerting a force F sub p two on the ball toward the left, shown by a vector F sub p two toward the left. A reaction force F prime sub B acts on the person, shown by a vector pointing toward right. (c) The exchange of a meson is shown between a proton and a neutron. Both are moving in different directions, and the proton feels a force F sub exch toward the left and the neutron feels a force F prime sub exch toward the right. The meson is also moving toward the right between the proton and the neutron.
The exchange of masses resulting in repulsive forces. (a) The person throwing the basketball exerts a force F p1 on it toward the other person and feels a reaction force F B away from the second person. (b) The person catching the basketball exerts a force F p2 on it to stop the ball and feels a reaction force F′ B away from the first person. (c) The analogous exchange of a meson between a proton and a neutron carries the strong nuclear forces F exch and F′ exch between them. An attractive force can also be exerted by the exchange of a mass—if person 2 pulled the basketball away from the first person as he tried to retain it, then the force between them would be attractive.

Questions & Answers

what is physics
faith Reply
what are the basic of physics
faith
tree physical properties of heat
Bello Reply
tree is a type of organism that grows very tall and have a wood trunk and branches with leaves... how is that related to heat? what did you smoke man?
what are the uses of dimensional analysis
Racheal Reply
Dimensional Analysis. The study of relationships between physical quantities with the help of their dimensions and units of measurements is called dimensional analysis. We use dimensional analysis in order to convert a unit from one form to another.
Emmanuel
meaning of OE and making of the subscript nc
ferunmi Reply
can I ask a question
Negash
kinetic functional force
Moyagabo Reply
what is a principal wave?
Haider Reply
A wave the movement of particles on rest position transferring energy from one place to another
Gabche
not wave. i need to know principal wave or waves.
Haider
principle wave is a superposition of wave when two or more waves meet at a point , whose amplitude is the algebraic sum of the amplitude of the waves
arshad
kindly define principal wave not principle wave (principle of super position) if u can understand my question
Haider
what is a model?
Ella Reply
hi
Muhanned
why are electros emitted only when the frequency of the incident radiation is greater than a certain value
ANSELEM Reply
b/c u have to know that for emission of electron need specific amount of energy which are gain by electron for emission . if incident rays have that amount of energy electron can be emitted, otherwise no way.
Nazir
search photoelectric effect on Google
Nazir
what is ohm's law
Pamilerin Reply
states that electric current in a given metallic conductor is directly proportional to the potential difference applied between its end, provided that the temperature of the conductor and other physical factors such as length and cross-sectional area remains constant. mathematically V=IR
ANIEFIOK
hi
Gundala
A body travelling at a velocity of 30ms^-1 in a straight line is brought to rest by application of brakes. if it covers a distance of 100m during this period, find the retardation.
Pamilerin Reply
just use v^2-u^2=2as
Gundala
how often does electrolyte emits?
alhassan
just use +€^3.7°√π%-4¢•∆¥%
v^2-u^2=2as v=0,u=30,s=100 -30^2=2a*100 -900=200a a=-900/200 a=-4.5m/s^2
akinyemi
what is distribution of trade
Grace Reply
what's acceleration
Joshua Reply
The change in position of an object with respect to time
Mfizi
Acceleration is velocity all over time
Pamilerin
hi
Stephen
It's not It's the change of velocity relative to time
Laura
Velocity is the change of position relative to time
Laura
acceleration it is the rate of change in velocity with time
Stephen
acceleration is change in velocity per rate of time
Noara
what is ohm's law
Stephen
Ohm's law is related to resistance by which volatge is the multiplication of current and resistance ( U=RI)
Laura
acceleration is the rate of change. of displacement with time.
Radical
the rate of change of velocity is called acceleration
Asma
how i don understand
Willam Reply
how do I access the Multiple Choice Questions? the button never works and the essay one doesn't either
Savannah Reply
How do you determine the magnitude of force
Peace Reply
mass × acceleration OR Work done ÷ distance
Seema
Practice Key Terms 2

Get the best College physics course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'College physics' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask