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Light waves propagate with no medium

  1. Apr 12, 2013 #1
    I have come to accept that the luminiferous aether does not exist.

    When we say that the electromagnetic wave is an oscillation of the electromagnetic field, then is not the electromagnetic field itself a medium that permeates all space?

    This is probably a dumb question, but I am as dumb as I look!
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 12, 2013 #2
    It was a dumb question then?

    I suppose the answer is that a medium for other waves is made of material particles and the electromagnetic field is not.
  4. Apr 12, 2013 #3


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    No, it is not a dumb question but it was only 3 and a half hours since you posted it. People don't sit around waiting for someone to post a question.

    As to your question, yes, the "electromagnetic field" is a field that permeates space. But a "field" is not the same thing as "ether" or some actual material.
  5. Apr 12, 2013 #4
    Thanks for the response HallsofIvy,
    3 and a half hours, I must move fast because it seemed like an eternity to me. (This excuse never washes for my gain in mass over the years either)
    I am always happy to wait for the excellent responses on physics forums, I guess on reading around in the other threads I thought I had asked a really dumb question.


    I came across this old thread and really enjoyed the direction this has sent me in.
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