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Author Topic: How can electrons constantly emit an electric field?  (Read 18530 times)

Offline RTCPhysics

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If an electron is travelling through space and constantly emitting an electric field in all directions, how does it regenerate its electric charge?
« Last Edit: 14/11/2014 14:05:38 by chris »


 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: The electron's electrostatic field.
« Reply #1 on: 05/11/2014 17:19:09 »
There is no loss of charge involved in moving an electron.
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: The electron's electrostatic field.
« Reply #2 on: 05/11/2014 18:29:04 »
If an electron is travelling through space and constantly emitting an electric field in all directions, how does it regenerate its electric charge?
An electron doesn't "emit" an electric field. It just has one. Think of it like a pin cushion whose pins are clamped into the cushion. As time moves on such a pin cushion doesn't need new pins.
 

Offline RTCPhysics

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Re: The electron's electrostatic field.
« Reply #3 on: 08/11/2014 20:45:52 »
Hi, Alan,
You are correct in saying that magnitude of an electric charge is unaffected by its movement. But my question was to do with the 'conservation of energy', not whether the electron was moving or not.

Hi, PmbPhy,
I liked your analogy, its a great way to get a concept across. But pins can't lose energy like an electric field does.

But your ideas have prompted me to explore electrostatics more closely and I came across the "Law of the Conservation of Charge", which states that for every positive charge that exists, there has to be a negative charge.

It set me thinking and led to the conclusion that a negatively charged particle, such as the electron, can only create an electric field if there is a positively charged particle within its vicinity. This way the energy required to generate an electric field is exchanged between the two without either losing any charge. In the atom, a proton and an electron attract each other by exchanging photons, so that neither particle loses charge.

However, if a positively or negatively charged particle is completely isolated, (static or moving) it is unable to generate an electric field around itself and hence doesn't lose charge, which enables it to obey the "Law of Conservation of Energy", which was the essence of my original question.  It also explains the puzzle as to why all charged particles have exactly the same magnitude of charge, independent of their respective masses.

So any demonstration of the electric field, like the one with castor oil and semolina seeds in a petri dish, must have a positively charged pole and a negatively charged  pole to create the electric field between them.

That's where I'm at. Any more feedback would be welcome.
 
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: The electron's electrostatic field.
« Reply #4 on: 08/11/2014 23:38:02 »
No energy is required to sustain an electric field. You need energy to separate charges, and as far as we know, the universe as a whole is not charged, so if you separate charges you will always generate equal positive and negative charges.

Not sure about "all charged particles have the same magnitude of charge". Charge is quantised in units of electron (or positron) charge, so the smallest amount of observed* charge will be that of one electron or one proton, but an alpha particle, for instance, has a charge of +2e.

The electric field of an isolated point charge is symmetrically radial, so it can't depend on the proximity of an oppositely charged particle as that would destroy the symmetry.   



*pedantic point, as someone will point out that quarks have fractional charges, but they aren't observed as free particles.
 

Online evan_au

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Re: The electron's electrostatic field.
« Reply #5 on: 09/11/2014 04:36:47 »
Quote
a negatively charged particle, such as the electron, can only create an electric field if there is a positively charged particle within its vicinity

Even if an electron were separated by an infinite distance from it's proton, both would continue to produce an electric field. Each is an "Electric monopole".

However, we have not yet been able to create a magnetic North pole without a corresponding magnetic South pole in the vicinity. These always seem to come in pairs (magnetic dipoles).

There are some theories that predict the possibility of "Magnetic Monopoles", and there are some ongoing experiments which have attempted to detect them, but so far without success.
 

Offline RTCPhysics

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Re: The electron's electrostatic field.
« Reply #6 on: 12/11/2014 21:40:39 »
Hi, Alan,

"No energy is required to sustain an electric field".

My thoughts:  The lines of force from an electrostatic or magnetic source are called 'flux'. As electrostatic and magnetic sources can vary in their magnitude, the strength of the flux is measured by the flow of energy passing through a unit surface area. So energy must be required to generate and sustain an electric field and this, I believe, can be detected by an electroscope.

"You need energy to separate charges." But presumably not, if they are both positive or negative. Have I understood you?

'Charged particles'. My apologies. What I should have said is that 'All charged particles have a 'multiple' of the unit charge of an electron or positron." The Alpha particle as you rightly pointed out has a 2e+ charge, one for each proton.  If I was being more precise, I should have added the word 'elementary or primordial' to the above definition. Every nucleus in the Periodic Table has one or more charges upon it!

I didn't think your last point regarding the UP and DOWN quarks was pedantic at all. But, I do find this fractional allocation of the unit charge between the UP and the DOWN Quarks, more of a convenience than a fact. They seem chosen to result in a positive charge on the proton and no charge on the neutron. Have you come across any proof of this fractional allocation from experimental results. 

A final question regarding your point on radial symmetry.

If an isolated electron has a symmetrical radial field, does every line of force end up upon a positive charge thereby retaining its symmetry? And presumably every one of these isolated positive charges also has a symmetrical field and its lines of force must end upon negative charges. It tends to imply that the universe is riddle through with a network of electrostatic fields! Can you make sense of this?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi, evan,

The existence of a 'negative electric monopole', such as the electron, must be in doubt if it always has to have a 'positive electric monopole' to connect with. Even if they are an infinite distance apart, by definition, this makes it a dipole, the same as the magnet.

It does raise in my mind the unanswered question as to why the Universe is made up primarily of matter and not anti-matter. In other words, we should be experiencing: 50% electrons/50% positrons and 50% protons and 50% anti-protons. Then we would have universal symmetry of charge. Not sure what we humans would look like though!

John
 

Offline jeffreyH

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Re: The electron's electrostatic field.
« Reply #7 on: 12/11/2014 22:29:36 »
If the fields generated by charge extend to infinity as theory suggests then all negative and all positive fields overlap. If we sum the total contributions of either charge at every point then the value tends towards infinity. Correct me if I am wrong. Thus the need for renormalization where only the differences in the strength of charges are taken into account. if we sum all contributions at a particular point in space what value would this tend towards? Altogether the two fields when summed and subtracted should be zero.
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: The electron's electrostatic field.
« Reply #8 on: 14/11/2014 02:57:06 »
Quote from: RTCPhysics
Hi, PmbPhy,
I liked your analogy, its a great way to get a concept across. But pins can't lose energy like an electric field does.
The pin analogy was used to demonstrate that the electric field of an electron doesn't loose energy. For some reason you think of the electric field of a charged particle as emitting energy and there's no reason to think that's true. If you want to learn the nature of a system of charges loosing energy then see:
http://home.comcast.net/~peter.m.brown/em/poyntings_theorem.htm

You'll see that a necessary requirement for a field to loose energy is that the field changes. However that's a necessary condition, it's not sufficient. There are other requirements. It's possible for energy to merely be moved from one point in the field to another.

Quote from: RTCPhysics
It set me thinking and led to the conclusion that a negatively charged particle, such as the electron, can only create an electric field if there is a positively charged particle within its vicinity.
That is incorrect. You can have an isolated charge with no other charges around it and its field will have energy in it. See above derivation.

Quote from: RTCPhysics
However, if a positively or negatively charged particle is completely isolated, (static or moving) it is unable to generate an electric field around itself...
That is incorrect. There is an electric field around any isolated charged particle.

The definition of field energy is the energy required to assemble the field from the charges that make up the field.

If you want to follow the derivation more clearly then see:
http://bookzz.org/book/855303/affd97

You can download that book from that link.
 

Online evan_au

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Re: The electron's electrostatic field.
« Reply #9 on: 14/11/2014 11:04:10 »
Quote
It does raise in my mind the unanswered question as to why the Universe is made up primarily of matter and not anti-matter.

You and most particle physicists and most cosmologists!
There are a few theories about what could have caused it, but no experimental evidence at this time.
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: How can electrons constantly emit an electric field?
« Reply #10 on: 16/11/2014 23:29:39 »
Hi, Alan,

"No energy is required to sustain an electric field".

My thoughts:  The lines of force from an electrostatic or magnetic source are called 'flux'. As electrostatic and magnetic sources can vary in their magnitude, the strength of the flux is measured by the flow of energy passing through a unit surface area. So energy must be required to generate and sustain an electric field and this, I believe, can be detected by an electroscope.

No. If the test area doesn't move, there is no "energy flow". The strength of an electric field is measured by the energy required to move a charge in it, or the static force on a charged body (same thing, different ways of measuring it) . The strength of a magnetic field is measured by the current induced in a moving conductor. The electroscope doesn't measure energy, it measures charge by the force between charged plates, and won't indicate a field.

Quote
"You need energy to separate charges." But presumably not, if they are both positive or negative. Have I understood you?

Try combing the cat with a plastic comb and a metal one. the force required to move the plastic comb is greater because in doing so you are separating positive and negative charges - the principle of the Wimshurst machine and the Van de Graaf generator. That's why your woollen skirt sticks to your nylon stockings (go on! have a bit of fun in the name of science! tranvestism or striptease, depending on your chromosomes.) Conversely if you approach a positively charged pith ball with another positive charge (say the cat's comb) you can watch the force pushing it away, so you would have to do work to bring it back. OK, if you separate two like charges you can extract useful work, but that's just a matter of sign convention. The point is that moving a charge in a field involves energy.

Quote
I didn't think your last point regarding the UP and DOWN quarks was pedantic at all. But, I do find this fractional allocation of the unit charge between the UP and the DOWN Quarks, more of a convenience than a fact. They seem chosen to result in a positive charge on the proton and no charge on the neutron. Have you come across any proof of this fractional allocation from experimental results.

Alas, free quarks are the fairies at the bottom of the nucleon - we have to keep inventing reasons like quantum chromodynamics why we never see them, but how else can you explain a ring of toadstools or the half life of a neutron?   

Quote
If an isolated electron has a symmetrical radial field, does every line of force end up upon a positive charge thereby retaining its symmetry?

The "lines of force" are vectors that we draw to illustrate what is actually a divergent continuum. If you introduce a positive charge you will distort the isotropic field, and we can illustrate that by drawing bananas between the charges instead of radial lines.
« Last Edit: 16/11/2014 23:44:32 by alancalverd »
 

Offline jeffreyH

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Re: How can electrons constantly emit an electric field?
« Reply #11 on: 17/11/2014 01:30:34 »
In reality the electric or any other field lines cannot extend to infinity as the universe has a finite age. If all matter was contained within a singularity as proposed by the big bang theory then they have a finite extension which cannot be larger than the current extent of our universe. Otherwise they would have extended faster than light. However this may not apply to the gravitational field.
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: How can electrons constantly emit an electric field?
« Reply #12 on: 17/11/2014 09:03:49 »
Field "lines" are nonexistent - they are the way we represent the field on paper.

Field strength falls off as 1/r2, as proved by Cavendish. 1/r2 > 0 for any r. Thus the field does indeed extend to infinity because wherever you can put your test charge to look for it, you will find it. Unless, of course, you can move your test charge faster than light. But as the minimum charge has finite mass, you can't. 
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: How can electrons constantly emit an electric field?
« Reply #13 on: 18/11/2014 09:25:21 »
Quote from: alancalverd
Field "lines" are nonexistent - they are the way we represent the field on paper.
Excellent point yet again. Too bad textbooks never mention it. Authors don't seem to think that it's necessary. However some do. See:
http://van.physics.illinois.edu/QA/listing.php?id=27163&t=magnetic-field-lines-dont-really-exist

which also holds for electric field lines.
 

Offline JohnDuffield

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Re: How can electrons constantly emit an electric field?
« Reply #14 on: 18/11/2014 13:57:11 »
Field "lines" are nonexistent - they are the way we represent the field on paper.
True. But note this quote by Minkowski from Space and Time:

"In the description of the field caused by the electron itself, then it will appear that the division of the field into electric and magnetic forces is a relative one with respect to the time-axis assumed; the two forces considered together can most vividly be described by a certain analogy to the force-screw in mechanics; the analogy is, however, imperfect".

The radial electric field lines and concentric magnetic field lines are more like "lines of force" rather than field lines. The field of the electron is the electromagnetic field. Try depicting electromagnetic field lines.
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: How can electrons constantly emit an electric field?
« Reply #15 on: 18/11/2014 15:33:11 »
I hate to be picky but the notion of lines of force, concentric  magnetic field lines, etc still conveys the wrong idea. Both the electric and magnetic field are contuinuums. We can draw lines to indicate the polarity and divergence of fields but they have no physical reality. The electromagnetic field is summarised by the Poynting vector.
 

Offline JohnDuffield

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Re: How can electrons constantly emit an electric field?
« Reply #16 on: 18/11/2014 16:25:11 »
I respectfully disagree with that. Take a look at Jackson's Classical Electrodynamics section 11.10 where he says "one should properly speak of the electromagnetic field Fμv rather than E or B separately". The important point is that the field is the electromagnetic field. When two charged particles interact we see linear motion and/or rotational motion. If we have some contrivance of charged particles wherein we only see linear motion, we talk of an electric field. If we have some contrivance of charged particles wherein we only see rotational motion, we talk of a magnetic field. But see wiki. These "are better thought of as two parts of a greater whole - the electromagnetic field". It's only when you take this on board along with the Minkowski quote do you appreciate that when two Fμv fields interact, the result is linear force E and/or rotational force B. Here's a simple depiction of combining electric field lines and magnetic field lines to yield electromagnetic field lines:

 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: How can electrons constantly emit an electric field?
« Reply #17 on: 18/11/2014 16:55:32 »
The lines are very pretty, but what do they mean? A charged particle will move radially, and a magnet  will align tangential to your circles, but what do the spirals have to do with anything? And what determines the curvature of the spirals?
 

Offline JohnDuffield

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Re: How can electrons constantly emit an electric field?
« Reply #18 on: 18/11/2014 17:15:53 »
The spirals show the frame dragging of the electromagnetic field which is akin to the frame dragging of the gravitomagnetic field. It was Oliver Heaviside who came up with gravitomagnetism as an "analogy" of electromagnetism. See this NASA article which talks about twisted space:



IMHO there has to be some similarity between the electromagnetic field and the gravitomagnetic field. And I think depicting "electromagnetic field lines" as above is a start. Have a look at vector field images and you see stuff like this: 


 
 

Offline RTCPhysics

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Re: How can electrons constantly emit an electric field?
« Reply #19 on: 25/11/2014 16:41:00 »
I intended to keep my question focussed and confined to the concept of 'charge' in electrostatics, but the discussion has interestingly branched out into an appraisal of the the whole field of physical forces. I've learnt a lot from it. I wanted to thank PmbPhy for his suggestion that I read David J Griffiths book on Electrostatics et al. I found Griffiths a master of his subject.

But, the answer to my original question, was summed up in just one statement on Page 95 and I quote:
"Still, the infinite energy of a point charge is a recurring embarrassment for electromagnetic theory, afflicting the quantum version as well as the classical."

This statement chimed with my thoughts as being physically impossible and was the original motivation behind my posting of this particular question, to find out what others might think. If this is one of the axioms upon which electrostatics is based, then I find the theory a non-starter.

The concept of an electric charge was introduced by Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century around the time that Newton developed his theory of gravity. There is a striking comparison, in that both theories involve the interaction between two or more particles/bodies of matter and both state that the force between them falls off with the square of the distance.

But just like Einstein swept away Newton's Theory of Gravity with his General Theory of Relativity at the beginning of the 20th century, perhaps its time to discard the concept of electrostatic charge and replace it with a completely new theory?   
 
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: How can electrons constantly emit an electric field?
« Reply #20 on: 25/11/2014 17:37:21 »
Quote from: alancalverd
I hate to be picky but the notion of lines of force, concentric  magnetic field lines, etc still conveys the wrong idea.
Why is that? I've always found them to be extremely useful. So long as one doesn't make any attempt to think of the lines as moving then I see no problem with them. What is the wrong idea that you think they convey? They merely represent a graphic visualization of the field itself.

Quote from: alancalverd
Both the electric and magnetic field are contuinuums.
What does this have to do with the point you're making?

Quote from: alancalverd
We can draw lines to indicate the polarity and divergence of fields but they have no physical reality.
We agree that they're not physically real so there's no need to repeat it again. However the do represent things that are real.

Quote from: alancalverd
The electromagnetic field is summarised by the Poynting vector.
Why do you say that? In what way is the EM summarized by the Poynting vector?
 

Offline JohnDuffield

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Re: How can electrons constantly emit an electric field?
« Reply #21 on: 26/11/2014 13:33:39 »
I intended to keep my question focussed and confined to the concept of 'charge' in electrostatics, but the discussion has interestingly branched out into an appraisal of the the whole field of physical forces. I've learnt a lot from it. I wanted to thank PmbPhy for his suggestion that I read David J Griffiths book on Electrostatics et al. I found Griffiths a master of his subject. But, the answer to my original question, was summed up in just one statement on Page 95 and I quote:
"Still, the infinite energy of a point charge is a recurring embarrassment for electromagnetic theory, afflicting the quantum version as well as the classical."
The very notion of a point charge is a recurring embarrassment for electromagnetic theory. The electron is not some point-particle that has a field. Field is what it is. You make it out of light in pair production. Light isn't made up of point-particles either, E=hc/λ applies to a photon. It has a wave nature. And you can diffract electrons. They have a wave nature too.

This statement chimed with my thoughts as being physically impossible and was the original motivation behind my posting of this particular question, to find out what others might think. If this is one of the axioms upon which electrostatics is based, then I find the theory a non-starter.
Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. A tweak here and there, and everything is just fine.

The concept of an electric charge was introduced by Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century around the time that Newton developed his theory of gravity. There is a striking comparison, in that both theories involve the interaction between two or more particles/bodies of matter and both state that the force between them falls off with the square of the distance. But just like Einstein swept away Newton's Theory of Gravity with his General Theory of Relativity at the beginning of the 20th century, perhaps its time to discard the concept of electrostatic charge and replace it with a completely new theory?
I'd say it's time to throw out the garbage that has cluttered up the theory.
 

Offline RTCPhysics

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Re: How can electrons constantly emit an electric field?
« Reply #22 on: 26/11/2014 22:08:15 »
Quote
The very notion of a point charge is a recurring embarrassment for electromagnetic theory. The electron is not some point-particle that has a field. Field is what it is. You make it out of light in pair production. Light isn't made up of point-particles either, E=hc/λ applies to a photon. It has a wave nature. And you can diffract electrons. They have a wave nature too.

I don't for a minute dispute your views about the electron and the anti-electron. In fact I think of them as 'bound radiant energy'. It's fact that they are created as an electron-anti-electron pair by hard gamma rays interacting with the nucleus of an atom and morph back into gamma rays upon collision. But radiant energy does not carry any electrostatic charge, positive or negative. So where does the charge on the electron and positron come from? Never mind that this 'magic charge' has infinite energy.

Quote
Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. A tweak here and there, and everything is just fine.

There are other weak links in electrostatic theory to consider as well. How is it that electric charge always appears as multiples of a fixed magnitude? The proton and the electron have totally different masses, yet carry the same charge, albeit of a different sign.

Why doesn't the neutrino and the neutron carry a charge? What is special about them?

Why do the Up and Down Quarks get allocated +2/3 rds and -1/3 rd of the electron's charge, except to fix the result so that the neutron has no charge and the proton has a positive unit of charge.

What is the difference in reality between a positive and a negative charge if the electron and anti-electron are constructed from field energy.

The concept of 'Global Conservation of Charge' is a bit unbelievable, as it relies upon instant communication across galaxies, even less believable perhaps, than the 'instant attractive force' between distant masses that challenged the credibility of Newton's theory of gravity.

The concept of 'local conservation of charge' is more reasonable, but only within the confines of the atom. It seems unlikely that the tiny positive electric charge associated with a single proton can carry much beyond the confines of the electron cloud around the nucleus. (However, I don't for a minute dispute the power of harvested electrons accumulating upon an insulating material.)

The 'supposition principle' used to calculate the electrostatic force acting upon a 'test charge' in the vicinity of a collection of charged particles seems a little contrived. Every charged particle must interact with every other charged particle. But if one charged particle interacted with two other particles, it would only be able to apply half its attracting or repelling force to each one. Unless, of course it has infinite energy to offer up.

Which brings us back to the first questioning of the validity of the concept of an electrostatic charge, what ever form it takes.

Quote
I'd say it's time to throw out the garbage that has cluttered up the theory.


I'm not sure what garbage there is in electrostatic theory that you have in mind, but I may have added a few more for you to consider.

May I stress that I don't wish to undermine the brilliance of Benjamin Franklin or the scientific value that his concept of electrostatics has been to the human race. But nothing lasts forever and I believe that enough cracks are appearing in the theory to warrant a review. Papering over them is not our scientific ethos.   








 
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: How can electrons constantly emit an electric field?
« Reply #23 on: 27/11/2014 09:51:18 »
Quote from: RTCPhysics
I don't for a minute dispute your views about the electron and the anti-electron.
You should. To experimental limits it's an experimental fact that electrons are point charges.

Quote from: RTCPhysics
Why doesn't the neutrino and the neutron carry a charge? What is special about them?  etc...
Some of your questions are answered by saying that it's what defines a particular particle. However to a large degree nobody knows the answer to your questions. With every theory we know more and more but also with every level of theory one can ask "Why?" and with each level of theory we have an answer until we no longer have a theory. One level of theory is chemistry. At the next level is atomic theory. At the next level is elementary particle physics. That's where we stop. So what we know as fundamental facts in particle physics cannot be explained right now.

I'm not a particle physicist and it's been many years since I've read up on it so I can't tell you what can and can be explained by it. What I do know is that you can't expect all of your questions (perhaps even none) to currently have answers.
« Last Edit: 03/12/2014 08:19:21 by evan_au »
 

Offline alancalverd

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Re: How can electrons constantly emit an electric field?
« Reply #24 on: 27/11/2014 21:48:35 »

Quote
Why doesn't the neutrino and the neutron carry a charge? What is special about them?
For the same reason that girls don't  have a Y chromosome. It's part of the definition. 
 

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Re: How can electrons constantly emit an electric field?
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