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Where does charge come from?

  1. May 10, 2008 #1
    I'm just wondering, and unable to find the answer anywhere on the web

    where does charge come from?

    is it just a property and not even a "thing" and therefore can't be determined the source of something else. so does charge come from mass? ie gravitational pull
  2. jcsd
  3. May 10, 2008 #2
    Charge doesn't "come" from anything, to our knowledge. But charge is a lot like mass - in fact i think thats probably the best way to think about it.
    It seems to be just an innate property of things in the universe; either they have charge (and some amount of it) or they don't. One of the big questions in theoretical physics is "where do things like mass and charge come from?"
  4. May 11, 2008 #3


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    It may be helpful to consider that particles are condensations in an underlying quantum field. Once you have embraced that, the charge and spin of particles can be seen as permissible states (or possible states) of these condensations. We should not have to question why every single electron or every single proton manages to assume a particular charge, though it would be very enlightening to learn how/why the quantum field constrains the values of those charges....
  5. May 11, 2008 #4
    Generally, charge can be defined as something that is conserved. According to Noether's theorem, it may be associated to a particular symmetry. In the case of electric charge, it follows from the symmetry action when the wavefunction/field is muliptlied by a complex phase [tex]e^{i \varphi}[/tex], and is sometimes known as a [tex]U(1)[/tex] charge.
  6. Dec 8, 2011 #5
    According to Wikipedia:

    In quantum mechanics, a phase factor is a complex coefficient eiθ that multiplies a ket or bra . It does not, in itself, have any physical meaning, since the introduction of a phase factor does not change the expectation values of a Hermitian operator. [1]

    ^ Messiah (1999, p. 296)
  7. Dec 8, 2011 #6

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    This thread is three years old.
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