# The screw nature of electromagnetism

#### Farsight

Take a look at Minkowski’s Space and Time dating from 1908. Towards the back is this:

"In the description of the field caused by the electron itself, then it will appear that the division of the field into electric and magnetic forces is a relative one with respect to the time-axis assumed; the two forces considered together can most vividly be described by a certain analogy to the force-screw in mechanics; the analogy is, however, imperfect".

Note how he said the field, and referred to electric and magnetic forces. The electron doesn't have an electric field or a magnetic field, it has an electromagnetic field. See Wikipedia and note this:

"Over time, it was realized that the electric and magnetic fields are better thought of as two parts of a greater whole - the electromagnetic field".

Also note the word screw. If you have a pump-action screwdriver you’ll appreciate that linear force is converted into rotational force. That’s like an electric motor: current flows along the wire, and the motor turns. When you use an ordinary screwdriver, rotational force is converted into linear force, and the screw is driven into the wood. That’s like a dynamo: turn the rotor, and current flows along the wire. We even have the right-hand rule which applies not just to electromagnetism, but to screw threads.

But you don’t usually hear about this "screw nature of electromagnetism". Instead you tend to read about the electric field E and the magnetic field B as if they’re separate fields rather than “two parts of a greater whole”. In John Jackson’s authoritative textbook Classical Electrodynamics you have to wait until section 11.10 before he says "one should properly speak of the electromagnetic field Fμv rather than E or B separately". By and large, physicists who are taught about electromagnetism think of E and B as fields rather than forces, and have no real concept of the Fμv electromagnetic field. They don't know how to visualize it. They can visualize the E and B easily enough. There's plenty of depictions out there. E is usually drawn with radial lines of force, and B is usually drawn with concentric lines. There's no problem visualizing them. But there's nothing that lets you visualize the "greater whole". However I think there is a way. A simple way. You just combine the radial and concentric lines. Like this:

Once you do this, you immediately appreciate the screw nature of electromagnetism in a visceral way. Other things start falling into place too. You read about the frame-dragging of gravitomagnetism and spot things like "there is a space-time vortex around Earth" and "if space is twisted". You appreciate why gravitomagnetism is an analogy of electromagnetism. You follow the lead back to Maxwell and you spot this: "a motion of translation along an axis cannot produce a rotation about that axis unless it meets with some special mechanism, like that of a screw". And you spot Maxwell’s page title too, which is "The Theory of Molecular Vortices". You appreciate Faraday all the more, and you realise why spinors are called spinors. You read about Dirac’s belt and you start to see things that were never in your textbooks. You can create an electron along with a positron in pair production. Out of light. And you can diffract the electron, because it has a wave nature. Like it’s light trapped by its own displacement current such that what was an electromagnetic field-variation now looks like a standing field. Like it's an optical vortex. It fits. Especially since counter-rotating vortices attract, and co-rotating vortices repel. A cyclone is a vortex. If you could set down two cyclones next to one another they’d move linearly apart. If you could set down a cyclone near to an anticyclone, they’d move together.

And if you could hurl the cyclone past the anticyclone, they’d swirl around one another too, like electrons and positrons do in positronium. They're dynamical spinors in frame-dragged space, and E and B denote the linear and rotational forces between them. The forces that result from electromagnetic field interactions, where it takes two to tango. Hence when you look at Wikipedia again, now you notice this:

"The electric field is a vector field. The field vector at a given point is defined as the force vector per unit charge that would be exerted on a stationary test charge at that point".

Yes, it makes sense, but you don’t hear much about the screw nature of electromagnetism. Or the geometry of electromagnetic systems. It ties in with topological quantum field theory, but not the Standard Model. People say the electron is a fundamental particle, and some even say it's a point particle, even though the electron is supposed to be a field excitation. Even though it's quantum field theory, not quantum point particle theory. For myself I think this needs to go into the Standard Model, and work is required "within the Standard Model", not "beyond the Standard Model". But it isn't easy persuading the sort of people who say the electron is surrounded by a cloud of photons popping in and out of existence. Spontaneously. Like worms from mud. As if hydrogen atoms twinkle, and magnets shine. So whilst we'll get there one day, it will be a while yet. And meanwhile, just like Max Planck said, science advances one funeral at a time

One doesn't hear much about this alleged screw nature of electromagnetism because it does not have a screw nature. Farsight, what you were quoting was *analogies*. Your arguments are extremely literal-minded interpretations of carefully selected quotes. Much more like a theologian than like a scientist.

As to Fμv vs. E and B, Fμv contains E and B side by side rather than somehow mixed together, which is what Farsight's diagrams suggest. E and B are the 3+1 decomposition of Fμv. Read this: Electromagnetic tensor - Wikipedia
Electric field E = F[sub]time, space[/sub]
Magnetic field B = F[sub]space, space[/sub]
E is obviously a 3-vector
B is less obviously so; it's a consequence of F being antisymmetric.

Furthermore, electric charge is *not* a topological invariant. It's *not* a winding number or anything similar. The circling-photon theory of electrons and positrons is just plain wrong. Instead, they are modes of a "Dirac field", a 4-component quantum field. Instead, electric charge is something simpler: an interaction strength, a strength which can go in either direction.

You're just playing the ignorant naysayer, lpetrich. It really does say space is twisted in the gravitomagnetism article, and electromagnetism really is like gravitomagnetism. Curved spacetime isn't curved space. But Percy Hammond does refer to curvature in The Role of the Potentials in Electromagnetism. He's co author of Geometry of Electromagnetic Systems. What curvature, what geometry? You're like the theologian here Loren. Actually, you're very much like a Young Earth Creationist. I show you the evidence, and you say nay nay nay.

Take a look at Minkowski’s Space and Time dating from 1908. Towards the back is this:

"In the description of the field caused by the electron itself, then it will appear that the division of the field into electric and magnetic forces is a relative one with respect to the time-axis assumed; the two forces considered together can most vividly be described by a certain analogy to the force-screw in mechanics; the analogy is, however, imperfect".

Note how he said the field, and referred to electric and magnetic forces. The electron doesn't have an electric field or a magnetic field, it has an electromagnetic field. See Wikipedia and note this:

"Over time, it was realized that the electric and magnetic fields are better thought of as two parts of a greater whole - the electromagnetic field".
I think he says that because the two fields cannot be separated from the motion of the particle, but both fields must exist perpendicular to each other and perpendicular to the motion of the particle, even if the path is like the force-screw analogy. Together they represent the electromagnetic field that is the result of the particle's motion. The particle moves through its own magnetic field to produce the electric field, and the electric field produces the magnetic field perpendicular to the particle's motion, or so I understand it.
Also note the word screw. If you have a pump-action screwdriver you’ll appreciate that linear force is converted into rotational force. That’s like an electric motor: current flows along the wire, and the motor turns. When you use an ordinary screwdriver, rotational force is converted into linear force, and the screw is driven into the wood. That’s like a dynamo: turn the rotor, and current flows along the wire. We even have the right-hand rule which applies not just to electromagnetism, but to screw threads.
Those are very good points.
But you don’t usually hear about this "screw nature of electromagnetism". Instead you tend to read about the electric field E and the magnetic field B as if they’re separate fields rather than “two parts of a greater whole”. In John Jackson’s authoritative textbook Classical Electrodynamics you have to wait until section 11.10 before he says "one should properly speak of the electromagnetic field Fμv rather than E or B separately". By and large, physicists who are taught about electromagnetism think of E and B as fields rather than forces, and have no real concept of the Fμv electromagnetic field. They don't know how to visualize it. They can visualize the E and B easily enough. There's plenty of depictions out there. E is usually drawn with radial lines of force, and B is usually drawn with concentric lines. There's no problem visualizing them. But there's nothing that lets you visualize the "greater whole". However I think there is a way. A simple way. You just combine the radial and concentric lines. Like this:

Once you do this, you immediately appreciate the screw nature of electromagnetism in a visceral way. Other things start falling into place too. You read about the frame-dragging of gravitomagnetism and spot things like "there is a space-time vortex around Earth" and "if space is twisted". You appreciate why gravitomagnetism is an analogy of electromagnetism. You follow the lead back to Maxwell and you spot this: "a motion of translation along an axis cannot produce a rotation about that axis unless it meets with some special mechanism, like that of a screw". And you spot Maxwell’s page title too, which is "The Theory of Molecular Vortices". You appreciate Faraday all the more, and you realise why spinors are called spinors. You read about Dirac’s belt and you start to see things that were never in your textbooks. You can create an electron along with a positron in pair production. Out of light. And you can diffract the electron, because it has a wave nature. Like it’s light trapped by its own displacement current such that what was an electromagnetic field-variation now looks like a standing field. Like it's an optical vortex. It fits. Especially since counter-rotating vortices attract, and co-rotating vortices repel. A cyclone is a vortex. If you could set down two cyclones next to one another they’d move linearly apart. If you could set down a cyclone near to an anticyclone, they’d move together.

And if you could hurl the cyclone past the anticyclone, they’d swirl around one another too, like electrons and positrons do in positronium. They're dynamical spinors in frame-dragged space, and E and B denote the linear and rotational forces between them. The forces that result from electromagnetic field interactions, where it takes two to tango. Hence when you look at Wikipedia again, now you notice this:

"The electric field is a vector field. The field vector at a given point is defined as the force vector per unit charge that would be exerted on a stationary test charge at that point".

Yes, it makes sense, but you don’t hear much about the screw nature of electromagnetism. Or the geometry of electromagnetic systems. It ties in with topological quantum field theory, but not the Standard Model. People say the electron is a fundamental particle, and some even say it's a point particle, even though the electron is supposed to be a field excitation. Even though it's quantum field theory, not quantum point particle theory. For myself I think this needs to go into the Standard Model, and work is required "within the Standard Model", not "beyond the Standard Model". But it isn't easy persuading the sort of people who say the electron is surrounded by a cloud of photons popping in and out of existence. Spontaneously. Like worms from mud. As if hydrogen atoms twinkle, and magnets shine. So whilst we'll get there one day, it will be a while yet. And meanwhile, just like Max Planck said, science advances one funeral at a time
This is a good post, and I like to see people thinking about how to describe what they visualize as the physical mechanics of theoretical physics.

Minkowski's 1908 paper is good reading, and it never hurts to review old, old papers at the foundation of GR , which itself has endured and evolved with the new discoveries over the past hundred years. You just have to know that he was visualizing the nature of the electromagnetic field interaction as he was describing how we can change our world view by changing the operative coordinate system in which we visualize those interactions.

The concept of the screw-nature of electromagnetism is food for thought, and helpful in my own contemplations about the nature of charges and forces.

Great, so you drew a picture that you think better models the underlying mechanics of electromagnetism than existing theories. Start by using your picture to derive Maxwell's equations, and we might have something that's actually worth discussing.

One doesn't hear much about this alleged screw nature of electromagnetism because it does not have a screw nature. Farsight, what you were quoting was *analogies*. Your arguments are extremely literal-minded interpretations of carefully selected quotes. Much more like a theologian than like a scientist.

As to Fμv vs. E and B, Fμv contains E and B side by side rather than somehow mixed together, which is what Farsight's diagrams suggest. E and B are the 3+1 decomposition of Fμv. Read this: Electromagnetic tensor - Wikipedia
Electric field E = F[sub]time, space[/sub]
Magnetic field B = F[sub]space, space[/sub]
E is obviously a 3-vector
B is less obviously so; it's a consequence of F being antisymmetric.

Furthermore, electric charge is *not* a topological invariant. It's *not* a winding number or anything similar. The circling-photon theory of electrons and positrons is just plain wrong. Instead, they are modes of a "Dirac field", a 4-component quantum field. Instead, electric charge is something simpler: an interaction strength, a strength which can go in either direction.

Very informative. Thanks for writing it down. Farsight is a 'top rung' nonsense troll.

You're just playing the ignorant naysayer, lpetrich. It really does say space is twisted in the gravitomagnetism article, and electromagnetism really is like gravitomagnetism. Curved spacetime isn't curved space. But Percy Hammond does refer to curvature in The Role of the Potentials in Electromagnetism. He's co author of Geometry of Electromagnetic Systems. What curvature, what geometry? You're like the theologian here Loren. Actually, you're very much like a Young Earth Creationist. I show you the evidence, and you say nay nay nay.

And you are very much the lying climate change denier.

If your ideas of physics are correct, then you can do a simple physics problem with them. Show us, and prove lpetrich wrong.

You're just playing the ignorant naysayer, lpetrich. It really does say space is twisted in the gravitomagnetism article,
Yawn. What do they mean by "twisted"? Explain in your own words, if at all possible.

and electromagnetism really is like gravitomagnetism.
There is a bit of an analogy, because gravitomagnetism is generated by angular momentum, the mass equivalent of a magnetic dipole:
L = m*(r)x(v) -- angular momentum
M = q*(r)x(v) -- magnetic dipole moment
Try again.

Curved spacetime isn't curved space.
Splitting hairs. What's the difference?
But Percy Hammond does refer to curvature in The Role of the Potentials in Electromagnetism.
No reference to curvature in that document. Try again.
A search-engine result page. You lose.
What curvature, what geometry? You're like the theologian here Loren. Actually, you're very much like a Young Earth Creationist. I show you the evidence, and you say nay nay nay.
Your only "evidence" is misunderstood quotes. Your quote mining is so like a creationist.

Yawn. What do they mean by "twisted"? Explain in your own words, if at all possible.

There is a bit of an analogy, because gravitomagnetism is generated by angular momentum, the mass equivalent of a magnetic dipole:
L = m*(r)x(v) -- angular momentum
M = q*(r)x(v) -- magnetic dipole moment
Try again.

Splitting hairs. What's the difference?

No reference to curvature in that document. Try again.

A search-engine result page. You lose.

Your only "evidence" is misunderstood quotes. Your quote mining is so like a creationist.

A creationist? Yeah. Folks who can work with relativity theory know what the geometry of spacetime is and don't have to argue over analog bullshit [like 'twisted space']. When you do an analysis of the Kerr metric you find out the 'ring rider' has angular velocity but no angular momentum. So we're kinda stuck with analogy unless we understand how it was derived from the metric. Arguing about which analog is right is the limit of Farsights physics. LOL.

I think he says that because the two fields cannot be separated from the motion of the particle, but both fields must exist perpendicular to each other and perpendicular to the motion of the particle, even if the path is like the force-screw analogy. Together they represent the electromagnetic field that is the result of the particle's motion. The particle moves through its own magnetic field to produce the electric field, and the electric field produces the magnetic field perpendicular to the particle's motion, or so I understand it.
This "produce" is a myth, quantum wave. A changing electric field doesn't create a magnetic field, it is a magnetic field. When you have no initial motion with respect to the electron's electromagnetic field, you think of it as an electric field only. But when you move through it, you start to think of it as a magnetic field too. Only you don't change the field just by moving through it. All you change is how you see it.

Those are very good points. This is a good post, and I like to see people thinking about how to describe what they visualize as the physical mechanics of theoretical physics.
Thanks. Doubtless it can be improved further, but that's part of the reason why I post stuff like this up. For feedback so I can hone it and refine it and make it clearer and better and more accurate.

Minkowski's 1908 paper is good reading, and it never hurts to review old, old papers at the foundation of GR , which itself has endured and evolved with the new discoveries over the past hundred years. You just have to know that he was visualizing the nature of the electromagnetic field interaction as he was describing how we can change our world view by changing the operative coordinate system in which we visualize those interactions.
What amazes me is that when you read the old material by Einstein and Minkowski and Maxwell etc, you notice that what they say is sometimes very different to what people say they say.

The concept of the screw-nature of electromagnetism is food for thought, and helpful in my own contemplations about the nature of charges and forces.
Thanks. I'm confident that it's right because gravitomagnetism features frame-dragging and it's an "analogy" of electromagnetism.

Great, so you drew a picture that you think better models the underlying mechanics of electromagnetism than existing theories. Start by using your picture to derive Maxwell's equations, and we might have something that's actually worth discussing.
Let's talk about them. For example see what I said above and look at Faraday's Law, which is given as

$$\nabla \times \mathbf{E} = -\frac{\partial \mathbf{B}} {\partial t}$$ or

$$\text{curl}\left(\mathbf{E}\right) = - \frac{\partial\mathbf{B}}{\partial t}$$

The equals sign doesn't mean "creates", it means "is".

A creationist? Yeah. Folks who can work with relativity theory know what the geometry of spacetime is...
No they don't. We've been through all that in the gravity works like this thread. Curved spacetime is not curved space. Instead it's inhomogeneous space.

brucep said:
When you do an analysis of the Kerr metric...
you're totally barking up the wrong tree. Now pay attention this time instead of merely playing the troll. Talk physics.

The equals sign doesn't mean "creates", it means "is".

Interesting, so if I have a dollar, and you give me a dollar. You did not create 2 dollars. It just is.
Can't really argue with that. 1+1 IS 2.
Avoids all this causality stuff.

Have a look at wiki:

"Over time, it was realized that the electric and magnetic fields are better thought of as two parts of a greater whole — the electromagnetic field".

There's more of that sort of thing kicking around, like here:

"There is a widespread interpretation of Maxwell's equations indicating that spatially varying electric and magnetic fields can cause each other to change in time, thus giving rise to a propagating electromagnetic wave[5] (electromagnetism). However, Jefimenko's equations show an alternative point of view.[6] Jefimenko says, "...neither Maxwell's equations nor their solutions indicate an existence of causal links between electric and magnetic fields. Therefore, we must conclude that an electromagnetic field is a dual entity always having an electric and a magnetic component simultaneously created by their common sources: time-variable electric charges and currents."

Have a look at wiki:

"Over time, it was realized that the electric and magnetic fields are better thought of as two parts of a greater whole — the electromagnetic field".

There's more of that sort of thing kicking around, like here:

"There is a widespread interpretation of Maxwell's equations indicating that spatially varying electric and magnetic fields can cause each other to change in time, thus giving rise to a propagating electromagnetic wave[5] (electromagnetism). However, Jefimenko's equations show an alternative point of view.[6] Jefimenko says, "...neither Maxwell's equations nor their solutions indicate an existence of causal links between electric and magnetic fields. Therefore, we must conclude that an electromagnetic field is a dual entity always having an electric and a magnetic component simultaneously created by their common sources: time-variable electric charges and currents."

Absolutely. This whole idea that electric and magnetic fields propagate is a complete fiction. Glad we can reach an agreement. I am a complete determinist, Causality is a fiction. If I turn the crank on a hand cranked generator, the magnets and wires don't create a current. The current and magnetic fields are mutually existent!

Absolutely. This whole idea that electric and magnetic fields propagate is a complete fiction. Glad we can reach an agreement. I am a complete determinist, Causality is a fiction. If I turn the crank on a hand cranked generator, the magnets and wires don't create a current. The current and magnetic fields are mutually existent!
So the magnetic field is a natural phenomenon, and the motion of the wire through the magnetic field results in an electric current through the wire. But there is no cause and effect? I don't understand.

So the magnetic field is a natural phenomenon, and the motion of the wire through the magnetic field results in an electric current through the wire. But there is no cause and effect? I don't understand.

Not according to Farsight. Maybe it is an Aether thing.

Not according to Farsight. Maybe it is an Aether thing.
What did you mean when you said that, "This whole idea of electric and magnetic fields propagate is a complete fiction", and that you are "a complete determinist, Causality is a friction"?

What did you mean when you said that, "This whole idea of electric and magnetic fields propagate is a complete fiction", and that you are "a complete determinist, Causality is a friction"?

Sorry I meant that causality is a fiction, not a friction. Do moving magnetic fields create a current? No. Not according to Maxwell. A moving magnetic field is EQUIVALENT to a current. Creation is a fiction. Farsight can explain this better than I can.

Physical laws are independent of direction of time. Causation is an illusion.

Quantum_wave: Cheezle is being sarcastic and playing the troll. Causation is not an illusion. Electromagnetic waves propagate. But they don't propagate because the "electric" wave creates a "magnetic" wave which creates an "electric" wave and so on. You can deduce his true attitude from this post where he says all of you aether cranks. He doesn't know about Einstein and aether. See arXiv for papers that refer to this.

Let's talk about them. For example see what I said above and look at Faraday's Law, which is given as

$$\nabla \times \mathbf{E} = -\frac{\partial \mathbf{B}} {\partial t}$$ or

$$\text{curl}\left(\mathbf{E}\right) = - \frac{\partial\mathbf{B}}{\partial t}$$

The equals sign doesn't mean "creates", it means "is".

I don't care about your interpretive analogies. I want to see you state a set of mathematical postulates and then derive Maxwell's equations as a consequence.