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What is a magnetic field? by David Sligar

Stephen Hawking explains in his book, A Brief History Of Time that virtual photons are the force carrying particles of the electromagnetic field. The 4 forces in nature can be explained by exchanges of particles, but quantum gravity theory has problems and is not complete.

Richard Feynman refers to photons from a magnet in his book, Q.E.D., The Strange Theory of Light and Matter. Feynman explains that under certain circumstances, including when a very large number of electrons are all moving in the same way, such as going around in the coils of an electromagnet, a large number of photons are emitted, all of exactly the same kind.

Roger Penrose explains in his book, The Emperor's New Mind that the momentum state wave function of a photon is a corkscrew or helix. He also explains that all emitted photons must carry some mass because E=mc2. Think of energy as a highly diluted form of mass or think of mass as a highly concentrated form of energy.

Thus one can visualize magnetic attraction and repulsion as streams of photons with their corkscrew shaped wave functions screwing into (attraction) or screwing out of (repulsion) each other. Now you can visualize that forces do indeed arise from an exchange of particles, or their wave functions. It has been suggested that these streams of virtual photons travel along the magnetic lines of force.

This leads to very interesting questions.

What is the frequency of a permanent magnet's field?

What is a magnetic field? by David Sligar