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When we turn our attention to the general case of electrodynamics… our first impression is surprise at the enormous complexity of the problems to be solved.
—Max Planck.[1]
The poetry of reality
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We must know.
We will know.
A view from the
shoulders of giants.

Electromagnetism is one of the four fundamental forces. It is responsible for most of what happens in daily life, being responsible for chemistry and indeed the existence of atoms, wherein the quarks that group as baryons, such as protons and neutrons. Protons and neutrons then group as nuclei and electrically attract a pile of electrons.

Electromagnetism manifests as electric fields and magnetic fields. These were thought of as separate until James Clerk Maxwell set out in 1873 precisely how and why one always implies the other. In the process, he discovered that light is electromagnetic radiation.[2]

Physicists used to assume electromagnetism travelled in a medium they called "aether", because how could you have a wave without a medium. That's just silly. Except it turned out to be the case. The Michelson-Morley experiment established that there was such a thing as a speed of light and that it was apparently constant. This was enough to start Einstein on the path to special relativity.[3]

Richard Feynman got a Nobel for working out the quantum mechanics of electromagnetism, quantum electrodynamics.[4]



See also[edit]

Icon fun.svg For those of you in the mood, RationalWiki has a fun article about Electricity.