Electric Field - Qualitative Description

Qualitative Description

The electric field is a vector field with SI units of newtons per coulomb (N C−1) or, equivalently, volts per metre (V m−1). The SI base units of the electric field are kg⋅m⋅s−3⋅A−1. The strength or magnitude of the field at a given point is defined as the force that would be exerted on a positive test charge of 1 coulomb placed at that point; the direction of the field is given by the direction of that force. Electric fields contain electrical energy with energy density proportional to the square of the field amplitude. The electric field is to charge as gravitational acceleration is to mass and force density is to volume.

An electric field that changes with time, such as due to the motion of charged particles in the field, influences the local magnetic field. That is, the electric and magnetic fields are not completely separate phenomena; what one observer perceives as an electric field, another observer in a different frame of reference perceives as a mixture of electric and magnetic fields. For this reason, one speaks of "electromagnetism" or "electromagnetic fields". In quantum electrodynamics, disturbances in the electromagnetic fields are called photons, and the energy of photons is quantized.

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