Lines of Force


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Lines of force

Imaginary lines in fields of force whose tangents at any point give the direction of the field at that point and whose number through unit area perpendicular to the field represents the intensity of the field. The concept of lines of force is perhaps most common when dealing with electric or magnetic fields.

Electric lines of force are drawn to represent, or map, an electric field graphically in the space around a charged body. They are of great help in visualizing an electric field and in quantitative thinking about such a field. A magnetic field may also be represented by lines of force. Magnetic lines of force due to magnets originate on north poles and terminate on south poles, both inside and outside the magnet. See Electric field

Lines of Force

 

imaginary curves in a field of force whose tangents at every point in space coincide in direction with the vector characterizing the given field—with the field strength vector in the case of electrical and gravitational fields and with the magnetic induction vector in the case of magnetic fields. The representation of fields of force by lines of force is a special case of the depiction of any vector field by flow lines.

Since the field strength or magnetic induction is a single-valued function of the point, only one line of force can pass through each point in space. The density of the lines of force is usually selected so that the number of lines passing through a unit area perpendicular to the lines is proportional to the field strength or magnetic induction in the area. Thus, lines of force give a graphic picture of the field distribution in space: the density and direction of the lines of force characterize the magnitude and direction of the field strength.

The lines of force of an electrostatic field are always open: they begin at positive charges and terminate at negative charges (or go out to infinity). The lines of force of the magnetic induction vector are always closed—that is, a magnetic field is a rotational field. Iron filings placed in a magnetic field align themselves along the lines of force; this phenomenon makes possible experimental determination of the shape of the lines of force of magnetic induction. The rotational electric field produced by a varying magnetic field also has closed lines of force.

References in periodicals archive ?
The cams are moving along the plane of the arrow, and the lines of force are all working together.
When a circuit was closed and electricity was set to flowing, magnetic lines of force sprang outward and crossed the second coil, inducing an electric current.
Likewise, they convey energy in two ways: both as individual vectors and through their interaction with each other, their brittle dynamism often suggestive of Futurist "lines of force." As a result, Buchwald succeeds in reclaiming composition and other types of formal complexity without abandoning alloverness or thorough-going abstraction, despite his self-limitation to a single building block.
If the rotary motion of a copper wheel cutting across magnetic lines of force can induce an electric current, then an electric current ought to be able to produce a rotary motion.
It also appears to have a remarkably well ordered structure that resembles the bar magnet pattern--exemplified by magnetic lines of force looping from the north pole to the south pole--exhibited by Earth and the sun.