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How is momentum transfered between magnets?

  1. Jul 12, 2012 #1
    Hi, I was wondering how is momentum transferred between magnets? Basically I know that magnets produce a magnetic field and when two magnets that are opposing (N-N or S-S), they cause each one to move away from the other one. I also know that the momentum is conserved because one moves one way and one moves the other way. I also know that in Newtons 3rd law, every action causes a reaction but it is usually considered instant, at least for everyday timescales and distances (technicaly at most, it happens at light speed). However for a magnetic field, it is happening at light speed, (299,792 Km/s), so for a short period between the magnets, the momentum should be in the field, right? Also the force carrier for the magnetic field is the virtual photon, so the momentum is actually being carried by the virtual photon. right?

    So how is momentum transferred between two magnets since it cannot be transferred instantly.
     
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  3. Jul 12, 2012 #2

    HallsofIvy

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    Momentum is "transfered" through the force between the magnet. Any force between two objects will "transfer" momentum between them.
     
  4. Jul 12, 2012 #3
    Well I know that, I guess I should have been more specific, sorry. I mean how is the momentum actually transferred when considering tiny timescales or large distances.

    For example, is the momentum actually transferred by magnet A emitting a virtual photon that carries momentum, this virtual photon then after say 1 nanosecond interacts with magnet Bs field, imparting it's momentum into magnet Bs field, which then transfers back to magnet B by way of virtual photons.

    Basically I am asking for a detailed explanation.
     
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