MAGNETIC ELECTRICITY, OR JUST A SUMMER STORM?
Do you know what it is? Few really do. Maybe you. For the rest of us, let’s start here. You will find the result “illuminating.”
Magnetism and electricity. They are the same thing. And together, they are a force of nature. Let’s see how.
It’s all about photons. The ones you are looking at right now. But there are so many more of them that you do not recognize with your eyes. Bathing you in a sea of electromagnetic foam. And I mean total immersion [but not like the photon torpedoes used so effectively in Star Trek]. If you were a television set, you’d see quite a show on any number of channels, if you had a mind to. One with neurons acting like transistors to tune into those channels. Wavelengths, actually.
And the new cellular transmissions are not causing the novel Coronavirus. But they are penetrating your mind. How do you feel today?
To begin; there are Four Laws of Thermodynamics. They became evident within seconds of the first creation. They will not be discussed here.
And there are Matter Particles and Force Particles that will later become evident. We will soon start our journey with them.
First, however, we must battle with the Four Forces of Nature. But we will only be dancing, herein, with the third one, Electromagnetism. That is the one currently speaking to you in tongues. A conversation that your brain is just not ready to entertain. For that, we need machines. Is that is how Dr. Who’s Cybermen were formed?
So, a summary of some background taxonomy [for physics, not biology]: There are 1) Four Laws of Thermodynamics; 2) Four Forces of Nature [the other forces? Strong (protons and neutrons in the nucleus), Weak (radioactivity, beta decay), and Gravity (get out of your chair!); 3) Elementary particles [Fermions (matter particles such as quarks and leptons) and Bosons, which are force particles, including photons, the heroes of this essay]; and 4) The familiar subatomic particles [protons, neutrons, and electrons that make up your atoms]. They are made up of the elementary particles, but are taught separately because they are easier to understand.
You’ve got a lot going on in your head when you turn on the lights, or the heater, or go into space. Or turn on the TV and, of course, the smart phone beside you that you just glanced down at. Don’t you ever sleep? Don’t worry. You will still be receiving your dreams over the air!
And now a summary of the full spectrum of electromagnetic radiation. Radio, Microwave, Infrared, Roy G. Biv, Ultraviolet, X-rays, and Gamma Rays. And from some, your skin will even burn. And others can look right through you. Wavelengths, that is.
What you actually “see” is more limited than that seen by a bee. You see only Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. And that only as a hallucination. A bee imagines the wider spectrum in full floral color, which evolved as displays to attract those fascinating, hungry insect pollinators! I wonder who first came up with that acronym, Roy G. Biv. You’ll figure it out, if you haven’t already. And I wonder if flowers or insects evolved together? Certainly they did!
The Eilers sketch, which accompanies this essay, shows the popular meaning of the electromagnetic spectrum. Different names for photons moving around with different energies. But get this. Each are moving at the speed of light. And all of that spectrum is “Light,” not just that tiny portion that we see with our eyes. The Roy G. Biv part!
It was William Herschel who first demonstrated that light existed beyond that which we saw. So get this. In 1800, Herschel used a common prism to split light into its rainbow components. Prisms are inexpensive. Either glass or plastic ones will do. I have many on my windowsills to catch colorful incoming dances.
But Herschel was more curious. He put a thermometer in the different regions of colors, and recorded the temperature. Then he placed the thermometer beyond the ends of the spectrum, out of the sunlight’s scatter.
Wow! There he found the highest temperatures of all. He had discovered infrared and ultraviolet radiation! The kind that burns your skin in the desert!
Science is special. Science is neat. Here is some more science to eat!
These waves are not really such things. If you test them properly, they act like discrete packages of energy. “Quanta.” So light radiation is both. Continuous waves and discrete packages of quanta. That can’t be possible. But it is, nevertheless, true. The scientific method shines its light on this truth. The best we can say, now, is that there is a dual nature of light. Not very satisfying. Almost spiritual, in meaning.
Blame Einstein, but revel in the knowledge yet to come. And embrace the sketch that represents the spectrum that baths you in such total immersion. Even now, as you read this article and glance down at your smart phone, which is really a computer!