We have learned in Chapter 21 that changing magnetic fields create electric fields. In the mid-1800's, the famous Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwellhypothesized that changing electric
fields might also create magnetic fields and that this interaction would create electromagnetic (EM) waves, waves of oscillating electric and magnetic fields. He predicted that the speed of these electromagnetic waves would be the speed of light. Consequently, he predicted that visible light was an electromagnetic wave. Let's look at the first part of his theory, that changing electric fields produce magnetic fields.
Recall that Ampere's Law stated in mathematical terms that a current produced a magnetic field. With this additional term, Maxwell showed that a changing electric flux would create a magnetic field, as well. So now we have the ideas that a changing electric flux creates a magnetic field, and a changing magnetic flux creates an electric field. Maxwell realized that this would lead to the production and self-propagation of electromagnetic waves. Let's see how this works.
Let's assume we have an antenna, which is just some kind of wire that is connected to an ac source. The ac source produces oscillating + and - charges which set up electric field (due to the separation of charge) and a magnetic field (due to the current in the wire).
Note that the electric and magnetic fields are perpendicular to each other. This field begins to move away from the antenna and in a little while the ac source has caused the situation to reverse.
We have a magnetic field that is oscillating in and out of the paper and an electric field that is oscillating up and down in the paper. Since a changing magnetic field creates an electric field and a changing electric field creates a magnetic field, these two oscillating fields continue to reinforce each other, and the wave propagates through space.
They are transverse waves. That means the direction of oscillation is perpendicular to the direction of motion. The electric and magnetic fields are sinusoidally oscillating perpendicular to the direction of motion.
1.The fields are oscillating
2.The fields are at right angles to each other
3.The fields are at right angles to direction of motion
4.The fields are in phase. The peak of the magnetic field occurs at the same time as the peak
One amazing thing about Maxwell's hypothesis was that hepredicted what the speed of electromagnetic radiation should be. The book shows briefly how to calculate this from principles that we already know. Using a similar method, Maxwell showed that the speed of electromagnetic waves in a vacuum would be
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