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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

explain the three laws of isaac Newton with the reference
glory Reply
1st law ; a body will continue to stay at a state of rest or continue to move at a uniform motion on a straight line unless an external force is been acted upon
3rd law; in every action there is an equal or opposite reaction
2nd law: F=ma
why am i not having access to the Link in your exemples /figures ?
Augustine Reply
what is circut
hasiya Reply
newtons law of motion
First law:In an inertial frame of reference, an object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by a force.
is the ability to do work
Adjah Reply
u from
any body online hain
ability to do work is energy
what is energy
Mercy Reply
energy is ability of the capacity to doing work
what is vector
mosco Reply
A quantity that has both magnitude and direction
can a body with out mass float in space
Is the quantity that has both magnitude and direction
Yes it can float in space,e.g.polyethene has no mass that's why it can float in space
that's my suggestion,any other explanation can be given also,thanks
A charge of 1.6*10^-6C is placed in a uniform electric field in a density 2*5^10Nc^-1, what is the magnitude of the electric force exerted on the charge?
Omotosho Reply
what's phenomena
Enoch Reply
Phenomena is an observable fact or event.
Prove that 1/d+1/v=1/f
James Reply
What interference
Moyinoluwa Reply
What is a polarized light called?
what is a half life
Mama Reply
the time taken for a radioactive element to decay by half of its original mass
what is radioactive element
Half of the total time required by a radioactive nuclear atom to totally disintegrate
radioactive elements are those with unstable nuclei(ie have protons more than neutrons, or neutrons more than protons
in other words, the radioactive atom or elements have unequal number of protons to neutrons.
state the laws of refraction
state laws of reflection
Why does a bicycle rider bends towards the corner when is turning?
When do we say that the stone thrown vertically up wards accelerate negatively?
Give two importance of insulator placed between plates of a capacitor.
Macho had a shoe with a big sole moving in mudy Road, shanitah had a shoe with a small sole. Give reasons for those two cases.
when was the name taken from
Biola Reply
retardation of a car
when was the name retardation taken
did you mean a motion with velocity decreases uniformly by the time? then, the vector acceleration is opposite direction with vector velocity
what's velocity
Velocity is the rate of change of displacement
Atomic transmutation
Basirat Reply
An atom is the smallest indivisible particular of an element
mosco Reply
what is an atomic
Awene Reply
Practice Key Terms 2

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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