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Forces on fields

Sebens, Charles T. (2018) Forces on fields. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 63 . pp. 1-11. ISSN 1355-2198. doi:10.1016/j.shpsb.2017.09.005.

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In electromagnetism, as in Newton's mechanics, action is always equal to reaction. The force from the electromagnetic field on matter is balanced by an equal and opposite force from matter on the field. We generally speak only of forces exerted by the field, not forces exerted upon the field. But, we should not be hesitant to speak of forces acting on the field. The electromagnetic field closely resembles a relativistic fluid and responds to forces in the same way. Analyzing this analogy sheds light on the inertial role played by the field's mass, the status of Maxwell's stress tensor, and the nature of the electromagnetic field.

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Additional Information:© 2017 Elsevier Ltd. Received 21 March 2017, Revised 18 August 2017, Accepted 15 September 2017, Available online 8 October 2017. Thank you to Craig Callender, Dirk-André Deckert, Mario Hubert, and Mark Lange for valuable discussions and helpful feedback on drafts of the paper. Special thanks to Erik Curiel, Dennis Lehmkuhl, and James Weatherall. Thanks also to the anonymous referees who provided useful comments on the paper.
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Official Citation:Charles T. Sebens, Forces on fields, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, Volume 63, 2018, Pages 1-11, ISSN 1355-2198, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:87013
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:12 Jun 2018 20:48
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 20:44

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