Is the electromagnetic field "real"? This is sort of a mix of classical and quantum so I put it here ... In our current view of the universe, is the electromagnetic field "real", or is it simply a manifestation of the true underlying causes behind the electromagnetic force? It seems to me to be the latter, since in quantum theory the photon is the carrier of the electromagnetic force. I guess my real question is: is light really electromagnetic waves, or is it photons acting according to a wave function? I don't want to get into the whole wave/particle debate. I'm really trying to figure out if the idea of electromagnetic field is just a holdover from times before quantum mechanics.