Permeability of space

1. Jun 16, 2011

Nano-Passion

I've always found this interesting especially because I never really knew what it means hehe.

What is permeability of space?

To me it sounds like the maximum speed that a wave can go through space, and space is assigned a constant for its ability in suppressing its magnitude of speed ????

2. Jun 16, 2011

WannabeNewton

3. Jun 16, 2011

Nano-Passion

Yes. I keep seeing the term permeability of free space. So I'm assuming it doesn't hold exclusively to magnetism.

4. Jun 17, 2011

PhilDSP

Classically, permeability applies only to magnetism and is more specifically called magnetic permeability. The related term for electricity is electric permittivity. Together, with other parameters they govern the speed of propagation of EM.

But of course, in SR the relationship between electric and magnetic fields varies depending on the frame of reference. Vacuum permittivity and permeability should not vary but within media the permittivity and permeability values are no longer constants.

Last edited: Jun 17, 2011
5. Jun 17, 2011

Nano-Passion

Could it be that permeability and permittivity of space also accounts for matter. Or does it only hold true for charge or EM?

6. Jun 20, 2011

PhilDSP

You could put it this way: a charge causes a local anomaly to form in the space around it where permittivity and permeability values are profoundly modified. That means that the passage of light and other types of EM fluctuations are strongly affected by the presence of the charge. One interpretation of matter is that it consists of a system of 2 or more charges in mutual motion where the flow of the energy inherent in the EM fluctuations is stable, persistent and localized.

Last edited: Jun 20, 2011