Maxwell's fluid model of magnetism

20 Feb 2015  ·  Brady Robert, Anderson Ross ·

In 1861, Maxwell derived two of his equations of electromagnetism by modelling a magnetic line of force as a `molecular vortex' in a fluid-like medium. Later, in 1980, Berry and colleagues conducted experiments on a `phase vortex', a wave geometry in a fluid which is analogous to a magnetic line of force and also exhibits behaviour corresponding to the quantisation of magnetic flux... Here we unify these approaches by writing down a solution to the equations of motion for a compressible fluid which behaves in the same way as a magnetic line of force. We then revisit Maxwell's historical inspiration, namely Faraday's 1846 model of light as disturbances in lines of force. Using our unified model, we show that such disturbances resemble photons: they are polarised, absorbed discretely, obey Maxwell's full equations of electromagnetism to first order, and quantitatively reproduce the correlation that is observed in the Bell tests. read more

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Quantum Physics