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Is Electromagnetic Field Momentum Due to the Flow of Field Energy?

Johns, Oliver Davis (2021) Is Electromagnetic Field Momentum Due to the Flow of Field Energy? [Preprint]

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Abstract

Momentum and energy conservation require electromagnetic field momentum and energy to be treated as physically real, even in static fields. This motivates the conjecture that field momentum might be due to the flow of a relativistic mass density (defined as energy density divided by the square of the speed of light).
This article investigates the velocity of such a mass flow and finds a conflict between two different definitions of it, both of which originally seem plausible if the flow is to be taken as real. This investigation is careful to respect the transformation rules of special relativity throughout.
The paper demonstrates that the consensus definition of the flow velocity of electromagnetic energy is inconsistent with the transformation rules of special relativity, and hence is incorrect. A replacement flow velocity is derived which is completely consistent with those transformation rules.
The conclusion is that these conflicting definitions of flow velocity cannot be resolved in a way that is consistent with special relativity and also allows electromagnetic field momentum density to be the result of relativistic mass flow. Though real, field momentum density cannot be explained as the flow of a relativistic mass density.
As a byproduct of the study, it is also shown that there is a comoving system in which the electromagnetic energy- momentum tensor is reduced to a simple diagonal form, with two of its diagonal elements equal to the energy density and the other two diagonal elements equal to plus and minus a single parameter derived from the electromagnetic field values, a result that places constraints on possible fluid models of electromagnetism.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Johns, Oliver Davisojohns@metacosmos.org0000-0003-4251-976X
Keywords: Electromagnetic Field Momentum; Electromagnetic Energy Flow; Relativistic Mass; Feynman’s Momentum Paradox; Models of Maxwell Equations; Electromagnetic Energy-Momentum Tensor
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Specific Sciences > Mathematics
Specific Sciences > Physics
General Issues > Structure of Theories
Depositing User: Prof. Oliver D. Johns
Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2021 17:43
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2021 17:43
Item ID: 19293
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Classical Physics
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Specific Sciences > Mathematics
Specific Sciences > Physics
General Issues > Structure of Theories
Date: 6 July 2021
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/19293

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