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Q & A: quantized E-M

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Most recent answer: 05/16/2013
Q:
There is much ado about searching for the quantum equivalent of the gravitational field called the graviton. In experience there has been little explanation of the force carrier for the electrostatic field. I suspect the photon is somehow responsible, but it's not immediately clear through elementary quantum mechanics. My question more clearly... If I continue to read quantum mechanics, will it tell me how charged mass generates an electrostatic field? If not, is there an electrostatic mediator which is below the photon? For instance, a single charge can produce a magnetic field as they do in motion, but when the current is zero, (moving in a circle), there is the electric field. Is there any clear answer the electrostatic equivalent to: "What is mass and how does it produce gravity?" i.e. "What is charge and how does it produce electrostatic interactions? Alternatively if the natural state is magnetic... "What is charge and how does it produce magneto-static interactions? My presumption is that there is no quantum particles indications for any of the fields which are not a spin groups of the Dirac photon field. Gravity, Electrostatics.... Comment: Possibly there should be?
- Ryan Chase (age 30)
West Seneca, NY USA
A:
I couldn't follow all of your questions, but there is a clear answer to your core question. Yes, if you keep studying quantum mechanics you'll get to a full quantized description of electromagnetism. The classical fields are replaced with combinations of photon creation and annihilation operators. There are some interesting quirks- for example if there are definite numbers of photons, then the expectation values of the fields are zero. The role of the fields representing charged particles in interacting with the photon fields is fully worked out.
This area is called quantum electrodynamics. It's perhaps the most fully developed area in all of science.

Mike W.

(published on 05/16/2013)

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