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Friday, 1 July 2011

Relation to and comparison with other physical fields

Relation to and comparison with other physical fields

Being one of the four fundamental forces of nature, it is useful to compare the electromagnetic field with the gravitational, strong and weak fields. The word 'force' is sometimes replaced by 'interaction' because the fundamental forces operate by exchanging what are now known to be gauge bosons.

Electromagnetic and gravitational fields

Sources of electromagnetic fields consist of two types of charge – positive and negative. This contrasts with the sources of the gravitational field, which are masses. Masses are sometimes described as gravitational charges, the important feature of them being that there is only one type (no negative masses), or, in more colloquial terms, 'gravity is always attractive'.
The relative strengths and ranges of the four interactions and other information are tabulated below:
Theory Interaction mediator Relative Magnitude Behavior Range
Chromodynamics Strong interaction gluon 1038 1 10−15 m
Electrodynamics Electromagnetic interaction photon 1036 1/r2 infinite
Flavordynamics Weak interaction W and Z bosons 1025 1/r5 to 1/r7 10−16 m
Geometrodynamics Gravitation graviton 100 1/r2 infinite

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