Forces of Nature Series : Electromagnetism

In the Quark Epoch of the early Universe, The weak nuclear force and electromagnetism were joined together as one. This was known as the electroweak force and as the Universe expanded and cooled the forces separated to become the fundamental forces we know today. 

These forces formed and separated within many millionths of seconds after the instant of the Big Bang. The electromagnetic effect was first distinctly observed and studied in 1600 by William Gilbert. He proposed that electricity and magnetism were both capable of attraction and repulsion of objects. Sailors had noticed that lightning strikes had the ability to disturb compass needles.

The foundations for electromagnetism as we know it now come one of Einstein’s renowned 1905 papers in which he was able to show that an electron can be emitted if light is shone onto a material. We now call it the photoelectric effect and it earned him his Nobel Prize in Physics, not for the General Theory of Relativity. This formed a small basis on how solar panels work, light shining onto a material generating electrons. 

Electromagnetism really are one and the same. A magnetic field is created by moving electric charges. This leads on to our own magnetic field, the magnetic field of the Earth. Our own magnetic field protects us from deadly charged solar rays which would strip away our atmosphere and ozone layer given the chance. 

The rotation of the Earth creates a magnetic moment, or magnetic field which points upward and out from North Pole to South Pole to repel the charged particles emitted by the Sun. Every 250,000 years or so the poles switch places with North becoming South and vice versa. Why this happens, nobody really knows.

It is highly evident Mars had its dense atmosphere stripped away by the Solar Wind. If a magnetic field reduces or ceases, the planet will be vulnerable to the Sun’s almighty power.

Electromagnetic units include: 

Amp – Electrical Current

Coulomb- Electric Charge

Volt – Electrical Potential Energy

Watt : Power

Weber : Magnetic Flux.

The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of electromagnetic radiation frequencies. This can range from short frequency radio waves to short wave gamma ray bursts! All visible light we can see is within the electromagnetic spectrum but special lenses on telescopes are used to detect infared and ultraviolet rays.

The Earth’s rotation field, repulsion and attraction lead us on to the cosmological elephant in the room. The most infamous force of nature….Gravity.

Jude Morrow 

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