The Law of Electrodynamics


IBM United Kingdom Winchester, England



The indeterminate elements can be deduced from

state of the empirical simple Newtonian interactions

law of electrodynamic of the law fully dynamics.

action to

between with

two current experiment

is reviewed.

It is shown that a form between


This law points

chargein electric

to be expected
mass ratio.


electric particles

of unequal anomalies

This result may account for certain hitherto unexplained phenomena.



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.


Brief Communications (c) The force exerted by a closed circuit on an element of another circuit is at right angles to the latter. Whittaker made no mention of the all-important experimental discovery of Trouton and Noble (3). Prom the analysis by Whittaker (2). . This involves equating A and -B.@ _ B(&z’)Z+3B(&F)(i&)F\ constants. 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. 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.~‘)r}.Z7I. Put another way: (f) There is no interaction torque out of balance between anti-parallel current elements. with k and A both equal to unity. In its simplest form. This balance of torque action is not assured by the simple formulation of Whittaker in Eq. or attract when carrying current in the same direction.F)Z~ r3 r3 I. (d) The force between two elements of circuits is unaffected when all linear dimensions are increased proportionately.B(&‘..r)~‘+(~‘.i)F r5 ( 2(Z. and thus obtained his law: p = Eii. the law becomes P= ~{(~. Ic is arbitrary and depends upon the units chosen. 3(z.r)(&‘. disregarding Ampere’s assumption. Whittaker (2) Here. A and B denote arbitrary then assumed linear force balance as represented by symmetry in & and &‘. This applies to the general formulation when A = B.~)~-(d7. F denotes the force acting upon an element z’ of a circuit of current strength i’ and due to a current i in an element z. 3. To satisfy observation (f) terms other than those in I must cancel when & is equal to . Ampere combined with the above the assumption that the force between two current elements acts along the line joining them.&‘. 180 Journal of The Franklin Institute . the current-strengths remaining unaltered. However.F) ( r5 - 2(&X’) p3 1 r * (1) Here. (3) Inspection shows that this formulation satisfies observation (e). the general formulation consistent with obs&vations (a) to (d) is found to be: F = /&’ 3(&F)(Z’.+4&. The line from d7E to &’ is the vector distance F.

iii’ b =-mdt a from Eq. 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. Let V. where --F’ is the force we now assume to act directly on m’ as a result of its electrodynamic interaction with m. They are separated by the distance vector 7. In summary. tend to change. On m’ we add the force: _m-%a Z = -_m’__. Vol. i. decreasing by I%‘. Therefore. on m we add the force : -m’-. Since there is no evidence that any system can begin to turn merely by its own internal interactions. 4. decreasing by %. in F direction. m’b = ma. We then remove the kinetic energy term and equate the remainder to zero. 2. This must arise acting on m in the direction V.d. These two forces on m and m’ will. of m’. The centre of inertia of this two-particle system is taken to be distant a and b respectively from m and m’. Consider the rate of energy change at m’. tend to change. 287. February 1969 181 . produce a turning moment in the system. the velocity (4) of m. For generality. -m -m’c -i?f dt in V direction. This must -m(%/dt) arise from a force -m(&‘/dt) acting on m’ in the direction V’. This force is a fully balanced interaction force. the forces in the system must prevent an out-of-balance couple from asserting itself. the velocity from a force Let V’. although we now have three force components.e. 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.’ dt in V’ direction. No. in the general case.Brief Communications Dynamic Analysis Consider now two particles of mass m and m’. Then. dt dt b a37 at The total force on m’ now becomes .

Further.s)o~-(. F. we have deduced that this law is only valid for interactions between charge elements of equal mass. = kii’(& . i%’ where e denotes the electron charge in electromagnetic becomes. this satisfies observation (f).’ mdt= 0 -c- F’ (F. However. 182 Journal of The Franklin Institute . and Grassmann. eZ’ may be written iz. 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. Whittaker.i. the masses m and m’ become equal and since the effective current elements e5... 9 with Eq. For the particle of mass m’.Brief Communications Thus. Eqs.‘)?).)v~(F. 2 shows it to be of the general form developed empirically by Whittaker. (6) Similarly for m. (w. This result fully supports the belief that the isolated current element as a steady current element is contradictory.21)21’ r -. d.v’) (7) We can now evaluate the resultant force acting on each particle.Z’) r2 and.v )r units.. The comparison is satisfied if A is . 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. Biot and Savart. (9) A comparison of Eq. with & = &’ realize that k is + 1. Further. (w. 6 and 7 may be used to derive the general force expression p= ~-(q. Eq.1 and B is . We then develop the identity. it has been shown that a unique law of electrodynamics can be formulated as The odd thing about this is that the law thus deduced differs from that of AmpBre.1. The inertial effects of the charge carriers are important to the understanding of the full law of electrodynamics. 8 If we now assume the particles to be electrons. from observation (e). as expected from the basis of the analysis.

Oxford. Kobel (4) found an anomalous cathode reaction force of 250 dyn at 16 A and 1400 dyn at 35 A. for example. R. It works out that there is an out-of-balance force productive of a cathode reaction by impact from the ions. London. R.February 1969 183 . Rev. There is no force action along the filament. Even using Eq. 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. Similarly. Vol. 1951. “Aether and Electricity”. References (1) R. Some deeper understanding of the law will have practical consequences in discharge and plasma control. the m’lm factor to be used with the middle term of Eq.Brief Communications Since this middle term represents a force component along the direction of current flow. 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. 1930. London. “Early Electrodynamics”.087. some manifestation of the predicted anomalous forces should appear in plasma work. Whittaker. New York. This quadrature current phenomenon has defied explanation. (2) Sir E. This is of the order of 100i2. Sot. 10 assumes importance. However. pp. Vol.No.. 1903. “The Mechanical Forces Acting on a Charged Condenser Moving Through Space”. This force is the product of the constituent ion current component squared and the ratio of the ion mass to the electron mass. Trans. 1636. 1965. where i is the current in absolute units. Vol. T. For example. Pergamon Press. R. Forces of the order of lOOi as found by Kobel are therefore readily explained. 36. (3) F. Many authors have found anomalous cathode reaction forces in discharge studies. 202A. Trouton and H. Phys. Noble. Nelson. any element of current in a continuous filament is subjected to balancing forces from the filament current on either side. Tricker. Kobel. 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. This also applies to the classical formulations of the electrodynamic law. 2. 165-181. Mere reaction momentum considerations lead to a relatively small cathode reaction force which is linearly dependent upon current. A. 1. Phil. (4) E. bearing in mind that in a discharge at least some of the current at the electrodes suddenly is transported by ions and not electrons. p.

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