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Magnetism and photons

  1. Jun 16, 2010 #1
    if electromagnetism is mediated by photons, what do photons have to do with magnetic fields?

    more specifically, what is a magnetic field "made" of? surely there aren't photons released by an ordinary household magnet? i have a vague understanding that magnetic attraction has something to do with spin, can anyone explain this to me?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 16, 2010 #2
    It might help to note that photons are actually "packets" of electromagnetic radiation.
  4. Jun 16, 2010 #3
    i understand that, but surely magnetic fields aren't carried by photons as electromagnetism is. in fact, magnetic fields wouldn't be carried by any particle at all, as far as i understand, so if they're really electromagnetic phenomena, what do photons have to do with them?
  5. Jun 16, 2010 #4
    photons are the excitation of the EM field . Maxwell thought what if an electric field could create a magnetic field and then that created an E field and so on and he found out that this traveled at the speed of light and he knew this was no coincidence , so we now know that light is a self-sustaining EM field .
  6. Jun 17, 2010 #5
    Magnetic forces are transmitted by photons.
  7. Jun 17, 2010 #6
    Photons are quantized EM fields. That is, they have an electric field component and a magnetic field component. They are perpendicular electric and magnetic fields moving through space generating each other.

    And magnets interact with each other through the exchange of virtual photons.
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