Date(s) - 16/06/2014
5:15 pm - 6:45 pm
Lakatos (LAK) 2.06
DATE: June 16
SPEAKER: Márton Gömöri
TITLE: How to Move an Electromagnetic Field?
ABSTRACT: The problem we address in this paper is on the border-line between physics and metaphysics. We begin with the observation that the special relativity principle is about the comparison of the behaviors of physical systems in different states of inertial motion relative to an arbitrary inertial frame of reference. Therefore, it is a minimal requirement for the relativity principle to be a meaningful statement that the states of the system in question must be meaningfully characterized as such in which the system as a whole is at rest or in motion with some velocity relative to an arbitrary frame of reference. Contrary to the accepted views—according to which the laws of classical electrodynamics satisfy the relativity principle, par excellence—we demonstrate that a general configuration of electromagnetic field, admitted by the Maxwell equations, does not satisfy this minimal requirement.
In the second part of the paper, we discuss the conceptual relationship between the problem of motion and the problem of persistence. It is argued that there is no persistence without motion. We formulate a minimal condition for persistence, which, at the same time, implies that the entity must be in motion with some instantaneous velocity; or, in case of an extended object, its local parts must be in motion with some local and instantaneous velocities. We show that electromagnetic field does not satisfy this condition. Therefore, we conclude, electromagnetic field cannot be regarded as a real physical entity persisting in space and time; or, the field strengths cannot be regarded as fundamental quantities individuating electromagnetic field, that is, electrodynamics cannot be regarded as an ontologically complete description of electromagnetic phenomena.