<< 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

Calculate the work done by an 85.0-kg man who pushes a crate 4.00 m up along a ramp that makes an angle of 20.0º20.0º with the horizontal. (See [link] .) He exerts a force of 500 N on the crate parallel to the ramp and moves at a constant speed. Be certain to include the work he does on the crate an
Collins Reply
What is thermal heat all about
Abel Reply
why uniform circular motion is called a periodic motion?.
Boniface Reply
when a train start from A & it returns at same station A . what is its acceleration?
Mwdan Reply
what is distance of A to B of the stations and what is the time taken to reach B from A
BELLO
the information provided is not enough
aliyu
Hmmmm maybe the question is logical
yusuf
where are the parameters for calculation
HENRY
there is enough information to calculate an AVERAGE acceleration
Kwok
mistake, there is enough information to calculate an average velocity
Kwok
~\
Abel
what is the unit of momentum
Abel
wha are the types of radioactivity ?
Worku Reply
what are the types of radioactivity
Worku
what is static friction
Golu Reply
It is the opposite of kinetic friction
Mark
static fiction is friction between two surfaces in contact an none of sliding over on another, while Kinetic friction is friction between sliding surfaces in contact.
MINDERIUM
I don't get it,if it's static then there will be no friction.
author
It means that static friction is that friction that most be overcome before a body can move
kingsley
static friction is a force that keeps an object from moving, and it's the opposite of kinetic friction.
author
It is a force a body must overcome in order for the body to move.
Eboh
If a particle accelerator explodes what happens
Eboh
why we see the edge effect in case of the field lines of capacitor?
Arnab
what is wave
Muhammed Reply
what is force
Muhammed
force is something which is responsible for the object to change its position
MINDERIUM
more technically it is the product of mass of an object and Acceleration produced in it
MINDERIUM
wave is disturbance in any medium
iqra
energy is distributed in any medium through particles of medium.
iqra
If a particle accelerator explodes what happens
Eboh Reply
we have to first figure out .... wats a particle accelerator first
Teh
What is surface tension
Subi Reply
The resistive force of surface.
iqra
Who can tutor me on simple harmonic motion
yusuf Reply
on both a string and peldulum?
Anya
spring*
Anya
Yea
yusuf
Do you have a chit-chat contact
yusuf
I dont have social media but i do have an email?
Anya
Which is
yusuf
Where are you chatting from
yusuf
I don't understand the basics of this group
Jimmy
teach him SHM init
Anya
Simple harmonic motion
yusuf
how.an.equipotential.line is two dimension and equipotential surface is three dimension ?
syed Reply
definition of mass of conversion
umezurike Reply
Force equals mass time acceleration. Weight is a force and it can replace force in the equation. The acceleration would be gravity, which is an acceleration. To change from weight to mass divide by gravity (9.8 m/s^2).
Marisa
how many subject is in physics
Adeshina Reply
the write question should be " How many Topics are in O- Level Physics, or other branches of physics.
effiom
how many topic are in physics
Praise
Praise what level are you
yusuf
If u are doing a levels in your first year you do AS topics therefore you do 5 big topic i.e particles radiation, waves and optics, mechanics,materials, electricity. After that you do A level topics like Specific Harmonic motion circular motion astrophysics depends really
Anya
Yeah basics of physics prin8
yusuf
Heat nd Co for a level
yusuf
yh I need someone to explain something im tryna solve . I'll send the question if u down for it
Tamdy Reply
a ripple tank experiment a vibrating plane is used to generate wrinkles in the water .if the distance between two successive point is 3.5cm and the wave travel a distance of 31.5cm find the frequency of the vibration
Tamdy
hallow
Boniface
please send the answer
Boniface
the range of objects and phenomena studied in physics is
Bethel Reply
I don't know please give the answer
Boniface
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