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Homework Help: Does a magnetic field occupy space?

  1. Feb 28, 2012 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    Do magnetic fields occupy space?

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution
    I think the answer is no but I am having a terribly difficult time explaining why. All I have seen online is that like light, the magnetic field is composed of non-massive particles that act like an electromagnetic wave. Please provide me with a better explanation that this. Cheers.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 28, 2012 #2
    Short answer is yes.

    Magnetic fields are really Electric fields under a lorentz transformation. Don't worry about that now, when you take an upper level E&M course you'll learn about the connection between special relativity and magnetism.

    The particles you're refering to are photons, and they are the "carriers" of the electromagnetic force, but that is a little advanced for a freshman physics course I think. The short answer is, magnetic fields are vector fields which posses an energy density, and thus occupy space.
  4. Feb 29, 2012 #3
    The question is rather vague. Yes there has to be some space otherwise you can't even define them. They point in a particular direction, and they vary from one place to another. You can even say that the field lines repel each other, but that would be a bit colloquial.

    But they DON'T occupy space in the sense that bricks do. You can't put two bricks in one place, but you can superimpose two magnetic fields in the same place to get a total magnetic field.
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