What causes electric charges? Repulsion and attraction?

In summary, the concept of electric charge is a fundamental ingredient in our models of the world, and its cause is still a mystery in many ways. Physicists are still trying to understand the underlying mechanisms and connections between electric charges, electromagnetism, photons, and light, but it is a complex and ongoing process. The connection between virtual photons and electric charges is that virtual photons can be used to describe electromagnetic fields, but this concept is not a perfect fit for classical electric and magnetic fields.
  • #1
MoonCream
2
0
Hi, I'm an undergraduate biologist student. I was studying chemical bond, but, while trying to understand it, I couldn't really get what causes the electric charges, what seems essential to me. So, someone can explains, in the simplest way as possible, what is electric charge? What causes it? Why there is repulsion and attraction? In my searches I found out something about virtual photons, hypercharge, weak isospin, vacuum, but I couldn't really follow what it meant because it was in a high technical language. Thank you in advance, and sorry if I'm not posting this question in the right place :)
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
MoonCream said:
Hi, I'm an undergraduate biologist student. I was studying chemical bond, but, while trying to understand it, I couldn't really get what causes the electric charges, what seems essential to me. So, someone can explains, in the simplest way as possible, what is electric charge? What causes it? Why there is repulsion and attraction? In my searches I found out something about virtual photons, hypercharge, weak isospin, vacuum, but I couldn't really follow what it meant because it was in a high technical language. Thank you in advance, and sorry if I'm not posting this question in the right place :)

Well, a lot can be said about electric charge and electromagnetism in particle physics, but when it comes right down to it, there is really no answer that doesn't just shift the question of "why is nature this way?" to a more difficult technical place, and which is not really much more philosophically satisfying than your current question.

Electric charge just "is". It is one of the fundamental ingredients that we put into our models, as a postulate, and then explain the rest of the world using it (I lie a little bit but not very much). To go beyond this, we really have to start looking towards grand unified theories and string theory or something.

There is an interview Feynman once did with the BBC in which he tries to explain the difficulty with such questions, it is really quite wonderful, I highly recommend watching it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMFPe-DwULM

It is a deep rabbit-hole you are peering down, and physicists are not actually so much further down it than you might think. They are just much better at explaining 'how' all these things work. If you want to know more about 'how', we can certainly go there.
 
  • #3
Thank you for the reply :smile: I never saw that particular Richard Feynman's video, and I really admire him, so, it was great seeing my question being discussed there.
Well, I understand what you said, I guess, and somehow I knew it was a trick question by the start. I still have curiosity about electric charges, electromagnetism, photons, light and all, of course, but I suppose it's too complex to go really deeper without having a good physics knowledge beforehand.
Anyway, if someone has any new information to share about the subject, it would be amazing :) I'll never have a full answer, naturally, it probably doesn't exist, but understanding a little more is always great. Like, what's the connection between virtual photons and electric charges? etc. ( maybe this question is kinda already wrong, I don't know, I just read it somewhere and may be confusing myself)
 
  • #4
MoonCream said:
Thank you for the reply :smile: I never saw that particular Richard Feynman's video, and I really admire him, so, it was great seeing my question being discussed there.

No problem.

MoonCream said:
I still have curiosity about electric charges, electromagnetism, photons, light and all, of course, but I suppose it's too complex to go really deeper without having a good physics knowledge beforehand.

It depends what kind of detail you want to know things in. I think you can get the basic gist of it all with even a high-school level of physics knowledge, with a little work.

MoonCream said:
Like, what's the connection between virtual photons and electric charges

Well your electric charges create electric fields (and magnetic ones if they move), and the simple thing to say is that at the quantum level we can describe electromagnetic fields as being made of virtual photons. It is a little bit tricky because virtual photons mostly make sense at reasonably high energies and with very weak fields, and usual classical electric and magnetic fields are nothing of the sort, but the picture can still be somewhat helpful.
 

Related to What causes electric charges? Repulsion and attraction?

1. What is an electric charge?

An electric charge is a fundamental physical property of matter that causes it to experience a force when placed in an electric field. It can be positive or negative, and the unit of measurement for electric charge is the Coulomb.

2. What causes electric charges?

Electric charges are caused by the presence and movement of subatomic particles, specifically protons and electrons. Protons have a positive charge and electrons have a negative charge. When these particles are not balanced, an object will have a net electric charge.

3. How does repulsion and attraction occur between electric charges?

Opposite charges attract each other, meaning positive and negative charges will be pulled towards each other. On the other hand, like charges repel each other, meaning two positive or two negative charges will push away from each other. This occurs due to the exchange of virtual particles called photons between the charges.

4. Can electric charges be created or destroyed?

No, according to the law of conservation of charge, electric charges cannot be created or destroyed. They can only be transferred from one object to another.

5. What are some examples of objects with electric charges?

Some common examples of objects with electric charges are batteries, lightning, magnets, and everyday objects like our bodies. All atoms and molecules also have electric charges due to the protons and electrons within them.

Similar threads

  • High Energy, Nuclear, Particle Physics
Replies
1
Views
2K
  • High Energy, Nuclear, Particle Physics
Replies
7
Views
2K
  • High Energy, Nuclear, Particle Physics
Replies
13
Views
3K
Replies
4
Views
1K
  • Electromagnetism
2
Replies
36
Views
3K
Replies
20
Views
1K
  • Special and General Relativity
Replies
20
Views
1K
Replies
6
Views
1K
  • Electromagnetism
Replies
2
Views
1K
Replies
11
Views
858
Back
Top