Regular Article - Experimental Physics
Measuring propagation speed of Coulomb fields
Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare, Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati, Frascati, Italy
* e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 11 March 2015
Published online: 24 March 2015
The problem of gravity propagation has been subject of discussion for quite a long time: Newton, Laplace and, in relatively more modern times, Eddington pointed out that, if gravity propagated with finite velocity, planet motion around the sun would become unstable due to a torque originating from time lag of the gravitational interactions. Such an odd behavior can be found also in electromagnetism, when one computes the propagation of the electric fields generated by a set of uniformly moving charges. As a matter of fact the Liénard–Weichert retarded potential leads to the same formula as the one obtained assuming that the electric field propagate with infinite velocity. The Feynman explanation for this apparent paradox was based on the fact that uniform motions last indefinitely. To verify such an explanation, we performed an experiment to measure the time/space evolution of the electric field generated by an uniformly moving electron beam. The results we obtain, on a finite lifetime kinematical state, are compatible with an electric field rigidly carried by the beam itself.
© The Author(s), 2015