Would this (classical magnetism) experiment be proved wrong?

In summary, the validity of classical magnetism has been extensively tested and confirmed through various experiments. While there have been some discrepancies and limitations, there is currently no evidence to suggest that classical magnetism is fundamentally flawed or incorrect. However, as scientific understanding and technology continue to advance, it is possible that future experiments may reveal new insights or theories that could potentially challenge or refine our understanding of classical magnetism.
  • #1

This article is an abridged version of the original article posted in google groups and is attached to this post. For further proofs or clarifications regarding this article, please download the attached file titled electrodynamics and magnetism.pdf.
I am not sure whether this article should be place under independent research category but since the proposed experiment is entirely based on these underlying classical facts (given below), I thought of posting it here. (Sorry if this caused any sort of unintentional inconvenience or trouble).

As a preface – this experiment is based on these well established facts that
1) Current is the rate of flow of charge – any charge, not just the flow of electrons*.
2) This flow of charge produces a magnetic field around itself/conductor.
3) Classical physics is purely deterministic and that definite causes should have definite results.
4) Observers in the same frame of reference (and who are at the same point and stationary to each other) should agree with same or similar incidents (ie, all parameters remaining the same).
*(not talking about displacement current here since this article is not concerned with it.)

Before coming to the experiment, the reasons for this experiment are explained otherwise its necessity would not be appreciated. Moreover, it greatly helps in expressing the viewpoint a lot so that you can answer correctly to the point. -thanking you for your cooperation.

The Anomaly:

Consider the setup - AB is an infinitely long current carrying conductor carrying current I. let CD be a metal strip positioned near to the conductor.

Case 1) The conductor AB is at rest with respect to the metal strip CD (fig 1A)
Here there will be a magnetic field in and around the metal strip CD, but there won’t be any potential developed across it (since there is no magnetic force acting on the electrons in CD).

Case 2) the potential applied to AB is reversed (so drift velocity is negative), and CD is moving with a negative drift velocity (equivalent to the conductor moving with a positive drift velocity) – i.e., here essentially CD is at rest with the conducting electrons in AB and moving with respect to non conducting charges. Here, there will be a magnetic field and there will be magnetic force acting on the conducting electrons of the metallic strip CD. This causes a potential to be developed across CD.

Now, it can be seen that in both cases the metal strip is under exactly similar conditions as shown in Fig 2- CD is stationary with respect to one kind of charges in AB and is moving with respect to the other (opposite) kind of charge.

In case1) the metallic strip CD sees a current due to the flow of electrons in the conductor AB and in case 2) the metallic strip CD sees a current due to the (net) flow of nuclear positive charge in conductor AB.

In case1) the flowing electrons in AB produce a magnetic field.
In case2) it is the net nuclear positive charge that is moving. Shouldn’t they produce a magnetic field?

Now as stated earlier, definite causes should cause definite results. Moreover, saying that there isn’t a potential developed in one and on the other there is like saying- even though the laws of physics are the same for all inertial reference frames, we can have different laws of physics (for the same phenomenon) in the same inertial reference frame.

However it is a well known fact that the potential developed in the two cases are different and If one observes closely, this anomaly of measuring different potential under identical situation can be easily explained.

1) The magnetic field which acts on the metallic strip CD is also acting on the probes of the potentiometer (Fig 3) which develops the same potential
across it (i.e., the probes of the wire that are equi-distant from the wire AB are at equi -potential and hence the potentiometer reads zero potential.
This creates a situation where the voltage developed can’t be measured directly.
2) The calculated potential developed in case 2) is generally of the order of Pico-volts (for a few amps) and this clubbed with the above fact (1) makes
it even harder to detect.

Assuming it is due to these reasons that the measured potential was different, one can straightforwardly come to the conclusion that the force (in this case and at “atomic” level) acting on the electrons in CD has to be of the form –

F=k q Q V^2/r (force in case 2 which has to be true in case 1 also)*

Where k = a constant,
q = charge of the electrons (in CD),
Q = conducting Charge in AB,
V = drift velocity of electrons (relative velocity between the charges in motion).

(* at the “macroscopic” level this still retains the equation for net force F= Bqv which is independent of the relative velocity of the moving charges and is described in the orginal version of this article and it's link is given at the final part of this article).

(It should be noted that force between charges in motion are not always related to square of their relative velocities, which is mentioned in the later part of this article**).

What was said above can be easily proved with the help of an experiment as described below.

The Experiment:-

(This experiment is based on above equation that this force on the electrons is proportional to square of the relative velocity and sign of the concerned charges. So materials with different drift velocity (or with different current carriers) should exert different force on charges placed near to them).

Consider a straight long tube CD which on conduction electro-deposition of copper takes place at the cathode (-). The cathode is in contact with a long piece of wire AB (as shown in fig 3) which is connected to the negative terminal of the battery and the anode is connected to the positive terminal. PQRS is a piece of wire or a metal plate shaped as shown and is placed near this (AB – CD) arrangement.


On the tube, the carriers of current are the positive ions where as in the wire; it is the electrons that conduct electricity. On conduction (as per the equation-given above), the conducting electrons in AB repel electrons in PQRS away from it whereas the moving cat ions on the tube attract electrons towards it. This causes a potential to be developed in PQRS and can be measured directly. (Here the length of QP/RS has to be much smaller than the length of AB and CD preferably QP=1cm and QR= 200cm).
In the above experiment, in place of AB and CD, n-type and P-type semiconductors can be used which should develop much more voltage across PS (of the order of nano-volts) since the drift velocity of electrons in semiconductors is much greater.

So the question is –would there be a potential developed across P-S?


** Consider a straight long wire AB carrying current I and a charge Q is moving perpendicular to it with a velocity V as shown in the figure 4. Here as the particle moves, it can be seen that its “r”, the distance between AB and Q that varies and hence the magnitude of the magnetic field changes and thus, it is magnetic induction that plays here and is very different from the above case.
V = dr/dt

Here clearly the equation for the force takes the form


which is independent of the square of their relative velocities.

For a detailed description about this article please download the file titled Electrodynamics and Magnetism.pdf which is attached to this post.

Please post your opinion regarding these and i request you to see this experiment as a classical one since I prefer a rational and logical answer that's in agreement with the four facts that was quoted at the beginning of this article.

Many thanks in advance.
Abhilash J Pillai.


  • Electrodynamics and Magnetism.pdf
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  • #2
There is no anomaly. Case 1 and case 2 are the same, there will be no needle deflection in either case.

EMF is induced in the circuit by a time changing flux linkage. The flux is constant in time and no EMF will be developed.

Although there will be forces on the charges in case 2 that are different from case 1, equal and opposite emf is developed in the little blue wires as they move with the strip. If in case 2 the meter stands still but the strip moves, only then will the needle deflect because of the increasing area of the circuit. Flux is B over the area.
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  • #3
It's amazing that so much complication can be erected around an elementary error.

In simple terms, a current can only be induced parallel to the original direction of current flow.

As Antiphon says, case 1 and 2 both will fail to show any emf.
  • #4
Thank you Antiphon and AJ Bentley for replying to me.

Regarding the statement "EMF is induced in the circuit by a time changing flux linkage. The flux is constant in time and no EMF will be developed"----
it’s not time changing flux linkage that always produce an emf. A potential is induced in a rod moving perpendicular in a magnetic field. These are the situations where we use Flemings right hand rule and is described by the equation (magnetic) Lorentz force F = q(BXV) - which we can use it to relate to the potential developed across CD.

This is something that Richard Feynman said in his lectures, making use of a thought experiment, which proves the inapplicability of Faraday's laws of induction to certain situations where even though there is no time varying magnetic flux and there is no change in area of the concerned circuit, there is still a potential developed and case 2 is an example for that. And hence, here it is the Lorentz equation that best describes the potential developed in CD in case 2 and not Faraday’s law of induction.
however you later said that "Although there will be forces on the charges in case 2 that are different from case 1"---- that’s exactly where the anomaly is. it doesn’t matter in case 2, whether the potentiometer reads this potential or not - the point is that there is a potential developed in CD in case 2 according to the (magnetic Lorentz) equation F = Bqv

In Case 1, since velocity v = 0 there is no potential developed.

however if you analyze this at the atomic level, where all that matters are the movement of the concerned charges, in constituting current or causing a magnetic field etc, case 1 and case2 are the same.(it's only the sign of the charges that is different and it is not relevant here). And hence from this point of view we have identical situations or cause producing different results - and this is something classical physics shouldn’t tolerate and hence the anomaly.

Regarding the statement --“In simple terms, a current can only be induced parallel to the original direction of current flow. “—consider a current carrying conductor AB and adjacent to it a rod (whose length or longer dimension is perpendicular to AB) is moving parallel to the wire AB. In which direction does the induced current flow according Flemings Right Hand rule which states that induced current is perpendicular to both magnetic field and motion of the rod?
Thanks to both of you.
  • #5

Thank you for sharing this experiment and your thoughts on classical magnetism. While I appreciate your efforts in trying to find a potential anomaly in classical magnetism, I do not believe this experiment would be enough to prove classical magnetism wrong. Here are a few reasons why:

1. The experiment relies on a specific setup and arrangement of charges, which may not accurately represent all situations in classical magnetism. In order to prove classical magnetism wrong, the experiment would need to be applicable to all situations and be able to reproduce consistent results.

2. The experiment also relies on the assumption that there is a significant difference in the drift velocity of electrons and positive ions in a conductor. While this may be true in some cases, it is not a universal truth and could vary depending on the material and conditions.

3. The equation used to calculate the force in the experiment (F=kqQV^2/r) is not a fundamental equation in classical electromagnetism. It is derived from the Lorentz force equation, which takes into account the magnetic field, electric field, and velocity of the charges. Therefore, it cannot be used as evidence to disprove classical magnetism.

4. The concept of potential in classical electromagnetism is different from the potential used in the experiment. In classical electromagnetism, potential represents the potential energy per unit charge at a point in space, whereas in the experiment it is used to measure the voltage across a metal strip. These two concepts should not be conflated.

In conclusion, while your experiment may bring up interesting questions and highlight potential discrepancies, it is not enough to disprove classical magnetism. It would require further experimentation and analysis to fully understand the phenomenon you have observed. I suggest seeking feedback and guidance from experts in the field of classical electromagnetism to further explore this topic.

Related to Would this (classical magnetism) experiment be proved wrong?

1. What is the basis of classical magnetism?

The basis of classical magnetism is the concept of magnetic fields, which are created by moving electric charges.

2. How do classical magnetism experiments typically work?

In classical magnetism experiments, a magnetic field is applied to a material, and the resulting behavior of the material is observed and measured.

3. What types of materials are typically used in classical magnetism experiments?

Common materials used in classical magnetism experiments include iron, cobalt, nickel, and other metals that are known for their magnetic properties.

4. Can classical magnetism be proven wrong?

While it is always possible for scientific theories to be disproven, classical magnetism has been extensively tested and has consistently been supported by experimental evidence.

5. Are there any current scientific theories that challenge classical magnetism?

There are some alternative theories, such as quantum mechanics, that offer different explanations for the behavior of magnetic fields. However, classical magnetism is still widely accepted and used in many scientific fields.

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