force on a charge in magnetic field

A forum designed mainly for high school physics students in New South Wales, Australia.
Post Reply
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat May 01, 2010 10:43 pm

force on a charge in magnetic field

Post by r.jenkins »

It is said that for a force to be experienced on a charged particle in a magnetic field, the particle must have a velocity:
ie by the formula: F = qvBsin@.

Why is it that the particle has to have a velocity?

In the similar scenario of a electric field, the formula F=qE, the charged particle experiences a force even if it is stationary!
Why is the magnetic field different and why does it need a velocity?

Any thoughts,
User avatar
Posts: 755
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2003 11:57 am
Location: Sydney

Re: force on a charge in magnetic field

Post by joe »

A simple answer to your question would be that different forces act on different quantities:
- gravity acts on mass
- colour force acts on colour charge
- electric force acts on charge
- magnetic force acts on the product of charge and velocity

A more subtle answer would observe that the magnetic force must refer to a particular frame of reference: in a frame moving with a charge, there is an electric force but no magnetic force. So electricity, magnetism and relative motion are all bound up together.

So it's no surprise that Einstein's relativity is developed from electromagnetism. See

I give a more complete answer here ... e2_FEB.htm

Post Reply