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CLASS 9

FORCE FIELD

There are two categories of forces - contact forces and non-contact forces.
Electrical ,magnetic, gravitational force were both listed as non-contact forces.
The gravitational force, is a force that most of us are familiar with. Gravitational forces are
action-at-a-distance forces that act between two objects even when they are held some
distance apart
If you watch a baseball travel its parabolic trajectory at a baseball park, then you are
witnessing an action-at-a-distance.
The Earth and the baseball attract even though there is no physical contact between the two
objects. While all masses attract when held some distance apart, charges and magnets can
either repel or attract when held some distance apart .The action-at-a-distance nature of the
electrical force is commonly observed numerous times during lab activities and
demonstrations in a Physics classroom.
The charged object/ magnetic object/ object with mass affects (exerts force ) other charged
object/ magnetic object/ object with mass that were in the surrounding neighbourhood even
though physical contact is not made
Explaining a contact force that we all feel and experience on a daily basis is not difficult.
Non-contact forces require a more difficult explanation
The best explanation to this question involves the introduction of the concept of field.
Action-at-a-distance forces are sometimes referred to as field forces. The concept of a field
force is utilized by scientists to explain this rather unusual force phenomenon that occurs in
the absence of physical contact.
An alternative to describing this action-at-a-distance effect is to simply suggest that
there is something rather strange about the space surrounding (a charged or massive )
object.
Space is altered by the presence of a charged object or object with mass. Other objects
in that space experience the strange and mysterious qualities of the space. This altered
space is called a force field (or just a field).
The object with mass or electric charge or magnet that produces field is called source
charge/mass and that experience force in the field is called test charge /mass

The strength of the field at a point is dependent upon the amount of


charge/mass/magnet that creates the field and the distance from that source of field.
Some extra notes
For example; an electric charge creates an electric field - it has altered the nature of the space
surrounding the charge. And if another charge gets near enough, that charge will sense that
there is an effect when present in that surrounding space.
And electric field is sensed by the detector(test charge) in the same way that a nose senses
the stinky things (field).
The strength of the stinky field is dependent upon the distance from the stinky things and the
amount of stinky in that . And in an analogous manner, the strength of the electric field is
dependent upon the amount of charge that creates the field and the distance from the charge.
Scientists have known since the early part of the 19th century that electrical fields and
magnetic fields are intimately related to each other and applications of this connection are
found all around you. Moving electric charge (electric current) creates a magnetic field.
Coils of wire can be used to make the large electromagnets used in car junk yards or the tiny
electromagnetics in your telephone receiver. Electric motors used to start your car or spin a
computer's hard disk around are other applications of this phenomenon. In fact, ordinary
magnets are produced from tiny currents at the atomic level.
A changing magnetic field creates electrical current---an electric field. This concept is used
by power generators---large coils of wire are made to turn in a magnetic field (by falling
water, wind, or by steam from the heating of water by burning coal or oil or the heat from
nuclear reactions). The coils of wire experience a changing magnetic field and electricity is
produced. Computer disks and audio and video tapes encode information in magnetic
patterns of alternating magnetic directions and magnetic strengths. When the magnetic disk
or tape material passes by small coils of wire, electrical currents (electric fields) are
produced.
James Clerk Maxwell (lived 1831--1879) put these ideas together and proposed that if a
changing magnetic field can make an electric field, then a changing electric field (from an
oscillating electric charge, for example) should make a magnetic field. A consequence of this
is that changing electric and magnetic fields should trigger each other and these changing
fields should move at a speed equal to the speed of light. To conclude this line of reasoning,
Maxwell said that light is an electromagnetic wave. Later experiments confirmed Maxwells's
theory.