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The Law of Electrodynamics

by

IBM

H.

ASPDEN

United Kingdom

Winchester,

England

Laboratories,

Ltd.

ABSTRACT: The indeterminate state of the empirical law of electrodynamic action between two current elements is reviewed. It is shown that a form of the law fully consistent with experiment can be deduced from simple Newtonian dynamics. This law points to anomalies to be expected in electrodynamic interactions between electric particles of unequal charge- mass ratio. This result may account for certain hitherto unexplained anomalies in electric discharge phenomena.

introduction

A summary of the early development of the law of electrodynamic action between current elements is given by Tricker (1). He presents the basic paper of Ampere on this subject, and the criticisms sustained by Ampere’s law and alternative formulations by Biot and Savart and by Grassmann. Also mentioned is the general empirical formulation by Whittaker (2) in which he proposes a simplified new law based upon new assumptions. The common problem is that none of these laws is fully consistent with Newton’s Third Law when applied to interactions between individual elements of current. Yet, all the formulations appear to give the correct answers when used in integrated form to apply to interactions involving a closed circuit. Tricker then reaches the seemingly inevitable conclusion that an isolated element of steady current is a contradiction in terms, and thus leaves open the problem of how two electrons in motion really react owing to their electrodynamic interaction. Here, it is proposed to apply directly Newtonian principles to the problem of two interacting particles. From very simple considerations a formulation of the law of interaction is deduced which is fully consistent with the empirically derived general formula of electrodynamics but, oddly enough, is different from the laws deduced, by assumption, by Ampere, Biot and Savart, Grassmann, and Whittaker.

Empirical

Analysis

Four basic empirical facts were relied upon by Ampere in deriving his law :

(a)

The effect of a current is reversed when the direction of the current is reversed.

(b)

The effect of a current flowing in a circuit twisted into small sinuosities is the same as if the circuit were smoothed out.

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Communications

(c)

The force exerted by a closed circuit on an element of another circuit is at right angles to the latter.

(d)

The force between two elements of circuits is unaffected when all linear

dimensions are increased proportionately, the current-strengths remaining unaltered. Ampere combined with the above the assumption that the force between two current elements acts along the line joining them, and thus obtained his law:

p

=

Eii,

 

3(z.r)(&‘.F)

2(&X’)

r

r5

 

p3

 

*

(

-

1

(1)

Here,

strength

F denotes

the force

acting

i’ and due to a current

upon

an element

z.

i in an element

z’

of a circuit

of current

The line from d7Eto &’

is

the vector

distance

F; Ic is arbitrary

and

depends

upon

the

units

chosen,

although

its polarity

may

be

determined

by

using

the

law

to

verify

the

observation

:

(e)

Two

extended

parallel

circuit

elements

in close

proximity

mutually

repel

one

another

when

carrying

current

in opposite

directions,

or

attract

when carrying

current

in the same direction.

Prom

the analysis

by

Whittaker

the

general

formulation

consistent

to be:

F

=

/&’

3(&F)(Z’.i)F

( r5

(2), disregarding

Ampere’s

assumption,

with

obs&vations

(a)

to

(d)

is found

2(Z.Z7I;+4&.F)Z~

 

-

r3

r3

- B(&‘.@

_

-

B(&z’)Z+3B(&F)(i&)F\

I.

(2)

Here, A and B denote arbitrary constants. Whittaker then assumed linear

force balance as represented by symmetry in & and &‘. This involves equating A and -B. In its simplest form, with k and A both equal to unity, the law becomes

P = ~{(~.r)~‘+(~‘.~)~-(d7;.~‘)r}.

(3)

Inspection shows that this formulation satisfies observation (e). However, Whittaker made no mention of the all-important experimental discovery of Trouton and Noble (3). Their experiment demonstrated that separated

charges in a capacitor resulted in no tendency for the capacitor to turn when

in linear motion transverse to its suspension.

Put another

way:

(f)

There

is no

interaction

torque

out

of

balance

between

anti-parallel

current

elements.

 

This balance of torque action is not assured by the simple formulation of Whittaker in Eq. 3. To satisfy observation (f) terms other than those in I

must cancel when & is equal to

when

-

&‘.

This applies to the general formulation

A

=

B.

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of

The

Franklin

Institute

Dynamic

Analysis

Consider

now two

particles

of mass m and m’. They

Brief

Communications

are separated

by the

distance vector 7. The centre of inertia of this two-particle system is taken to be distant a and b respectively from m and m’. Then,

m’b

= ma.

(4)

Let V, the velocity of m, tend to change, decreasing by %. This must arise

from a force -m(%/dt)

acting

Let

V’, the velocity

a force

of m’,

arise from

-m(&‘/dt) on m and

These two forces

on m in the direction

tend

acting

m’ will, in the general

V.

to

change,

decreasing

by I%‘. This must

V’.

a turning

on m’ in the direction

case, produce

moment in the system. Since there is no evidence that any system can begin to turn merely by its own internal interactions, the forces in the system must prevent an out-of-balance couple from asserting itself. Therefore, on m we add the force :

from

Eq.

The total

4.

On m’

we

add

-m’--

iii’

dt

the force:

force

_m--

%a

dt

on m’ now becomes

-m

,d;’

dt

b

a

=-m-

= -_m’

b

a37

at

Z

dt

in V’ direction,

-m’c

-i?f

dt

in V direction,

in F direction,

where --F’ is the force we now assume to act directly on m’ as a result of its electrodynamic interaction with m. This force is a fully balanced interaction force. In summary, although we now have three force components, two have arisen by action and reaction and one is really fictitious. The prime direct electrodynamic force induces acceleration in a particle and therefore the inertial reaction. For generality, the inertial reaction force component which could correspond to a turning action has been introduced in the inertial formulation but since it must be zero it has been offset by a balancing term.

Consider

the rate of energy

change

at m’,

i.e.

term. Consider the rate of energy change at m’, i.e. We then remove Vol. 287, No.

We then remove

Vol. 287, No.

2, February

the kinetic

1969

energy

term

and equate

the remainder

to zero.

 

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Brief Communications

Thus,

Similarly

for m,

 

(6)

(7)

on each

particle.

For

the

the general

force

d;’

mdt=

0

-c-

r

force

F’

(F.21)21’

-.

(w.v’)

acting

We can now evaluate

particle

expression

the resultant

6 and

of mass m,

Eqs.

7 may

be used to derive

If

we

now

p= ~-(q.i;.)v~(F.s)o~-(,.;‘)?).

(w.v )r

the

particles

to

be

electrons,

the

assume

masses

m and

m’

become

equal and since the effective

current

elements

e5, eZ’ may be written

iz,

i%’

where e denotes

the electron

charge

in electromagnetic

units,

Eq.

8

becomes,

 
 

(9)

 

A

comparison

of

Eq.

9 with

Eq.

2 shows

it

to

be

of

the

general

form

developed empirically by Whittaker. The comparison is satisfied if A is - 1

and B is - 1. Further, this satisfies observation (f), as expected from the

basis of the analysis.

We then develop

the identity,

F, = kii’(& .Z’)

r2

and, from observation (e), with & = &’ realize that k is + 1. Of interest then is the fact that this force is exactly that deduced theoretically by evaluating the interaction component of the integrated magnetic field energy clue to the two current elements and assuming that it tends to increase. This result fully supports the belief that the isolated current element as a steady current element is contradictory. The inertial effects of the charge carriers are important to the understanding of the full law of electrodynamics. However, it has been shown that a unique law of electrodynamics can be formulated as

that a unique law of electrodynamics can be formulated as differs from that of AmpBre, Whittaker,

differs from that of

AmpBre, Whittaker, Biot and Savart, and Grassmann. Further, we have deduced that this law is only valid for interactions between charge elements of equal mass. If the masses of charge carriers in different parts of the same circuit are different the middle term in the above formulation has a coefficient

equal to the mass ratio.

The odd thing about

this is that the law thus deduced

182

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Communications

Since this middle term represents a forcecomponent along the direction of current flow, we may predict that in a discharge circuit where electrons carry current in a cathode but positive ions contribute to the current to the cathode there will be an electrodynamic force manifested along the discharge. Similarly, some manifestation of the predicted anomalous forces should appear in plasma work. Many authors have found anomalous cathode reaction forces in discharge studies. For example, Kobel (4) found an anomalous cathode reaction force of 250 dyn at 16 A and 1400 dyn at 35 A. This is of the order of 100i2, where i is the current in absolute units. This quadrature current phenomenon has defied explanation. Mere reaction momentum considerations lead to a relatively small cathode reaction force which is linearly dependent upon current. Even using Eq. 1, for example, any element of current in a con- tinuous filament is subjected to balancing forces from the filament current on either side. There is no force action along the filament. This also applies to the classical formulations of the electrodynamic law. However, bearing in mind that in a discharge at least some of the current at the electrodes suddenly is transported by ions and not electrons, the m’lm factor to be used with the middle term of Eq. 10 assumes importance. On one side of this current junction at the cathode electrons act upon ions in the discharge and on the other side ions act on ions. It works out that there is an out-of-balance force productive of a cathode reaction by impact from the ions. This force is the product of the constituent ion current component squared and the ratio of the ion mass to the electron mass. Forces of the order of lOOi asfound by Kobel are therefore readily explained. It may be concluded that the resolution of this long-standing problem of the true nature of this basic electrodynamic law is not a mere academic topic. Some deeper understanding of the law will have practical consequences in discharge and plasma control.

References

(1)

R.

A.

R.

Tricker,

“Early

Electrodynamics”,

Oxford,

New

York,

Pergamon

Press,

 

1965.

 

(2)

Sir E. Whittaker,

“Aether

and Electricity”,

London,

Nelson,

1951.

(3)

F.

T.

Trouton

and

H.

R.

Noble,

“The

Mechanical

Forces Acting

on a Charged

 

Condenser Moving

Through

Space,

Phil.

Trans.

R.

Sot.

London,

Vol.

202A,

pp.

165-181,

1903.

 

(4)

E.

Kobel,

Phys.

Rev.,

Vol.

36,

p.

1636,

1930.

Vol.087,No. 2,February1969

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