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Causative agent for basic charge

  1. Sep 5, 2014 #1
    In the history of science, has anyone ever considered the need for a cause to account for basic electric charge, that is, the charge on the proton and the electron? Is it assumed as a given? First cause?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 5, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 5, 2014 #2

    Drakkith

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    The electric charge of a particle is a verified observed fact with no underlying cause.
     
  4. Sep 5, 2014 #3
    I'm sure people have pondered this historically, but I don't believe anyone has come up with a good explanation of why a proton has the same charge as an electron, or any way to explain the strength of the electric field of an electron relative to the strength of gravity.

    Dirac argued that if magnetic monopoles exist, then both the electric charge and magnetic charge must be quantized, and this could help explain why electrons, mesons, protons, etc. have the same charge. (As opposed to how different particles seem to have randomly unexplainable different masses.)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_monopole#Dirac.27s_quantization

    Keep in mind that it is only meaningful to try to explain the ratio between charges, or the ratio of strengths of forces. The numerical value for the elementary charge (~1.602*10^-19 coulombs) is just arbitrary based on how we historically measured and defined the coulomb.
     
  5. Sep 6, 2014 #4
    Consider the following thought experiment: if basic electric charge were to somehow disappear, all the matter in the universe would—depending on what protons and electrons actually are—either disappear or fall apart.

    It would seem that if we are to avoid perpetual motion and gifts from the gods a causative agent should be required to account for charge.

    I realize I am probably violating protocol by discussing metaphysics; could someone kindly direct me to a more appropriate forum?

    Thank you.
     
  6. Sep 6, 2014 #5

    Drakkith

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    I see it as just one of the "why" questions that can't be answered at this time.
     
  7. Sep 6, 2014 #6

    Dale

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    Per Noether's theorem charge is implied by the gauge symmetry of EM fields. The symmetry is taken as fundamental.
     
  8. Sep 6, 2014 #7
    Where does the energy come from that holds a refrigerator magnet in place as it defies gravity?
     
  9. Sep 6, 2014 #8

    Dale

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    No energy is required.
     
  10. Sep 6, 2014 #9
    It's like magic!
     
  11. Sep 6, 2014 #10

    Drakkith

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    Not really. If you look at the definition of energy and work, you will notice that energy is the ability to perform work, and work is force x distance. Since the magnet is not moving, no work is being performed on or by it and no energy is expended.
     
  12. Sep 6, 2014 #11

    Dale

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    Don't be silly.

    Drakkith is correct. Another way to think of it is that the magnet's KE and PE are unchanged so no external energy is needed.
     
  13. Sep 6, 2014 #12
    I think the textbook definition of work is rather stingy. If one holds a bowling ball out at arm's length for an hour one is doing no work. What is holding the magnet up? Something is being expended.
     
  14. Sep 6, 2014 #13

    Dale

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    What do you think is being expended? It certainly isn't energy.

    If something were being expended then the magnet would only be able to do it until it ran out of whatever was being expended. The fact that that doesn't happen clearly contradicts the idea that anything is expended.
     
  15. Sep 6, 2014 #14

    Nugatory

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    If you hold a bowling ball out at arm's length, it won't take an hour for you to know that something is being expended. But if I rest the same bowling ball on the ground it will sit there more or less forever, and the ground doesn't get tired or raise a sweat.

    The human body is very inefficient at holding things in place. We spend energy flexing and unflexing our muscles, tightening up a bit if the object we're holding starts to move down, slacking off a bit if it's moving up. All of that movement is work, and covered by the textbook definition.
     
  16. Sep 7, 2014 #15

    Dale

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    If instead of a magnet you were to glue something to the fridge, would you still assume that something was being expended? If not, then what do you consider to be different about the magnet and the glue that one must require something to be expended and the other does not?
     
  17. Sep 7, 2014 #16
    This is so fun! I hope I'm not pissing anyone off.
    It is indeed energy that is being expended. It doesn't run out because it is being continuously replenished. All mass is being constantly replenished with energy, in the form of a universal, flowing aethereal medium. Natural magnets are special, of course, because of the way the molecules and domains are lined up, inducing currents. In this case energy is actually flowing back out of the magnet, causing the molecules and domains in the fridge to "flip," according to which end of the magnet is in touch with the metal. It's no different than an electromagnet, other than the cause is "hidden."

    "Nothing can be created out of nothing"—Lucretius—
     
  18. Sep 7, 2014 #17
    No, nothing is being expended. The two cases are not even similar. The glue is working through cohesive electrostatic and electromagnetic forces. The magnet is using energy in its most elemental, fundamental form—quintessence.

    "Nature loves to hide"—Hericlitus—
     
  19. Sep 7, 2014 #18

    Nugatory

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    It's time to close this thread, as it has drifted away from mainstream science and into personal speculation
     
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