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ERIC Number: EJ819217
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Nov
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 15
ISSN: ISSN-0143-0807
Transversality of Electromagnetic Waves in the Calculus-Based Introductory Physics Course
Burko, Lior M.
European Journal of Physics, v29 n6 p1223-1234 Nov 2008
Introductory calculus-based physics textbooks state that electromagnetic waves are transverse and list many of their properties, but most such textbooks do not bring forth arguments why this is so. Both physical and theoretical arguments are at a level appropriate for students of courses based on such books, and could be readily used by instructors of such courses. Here, we discuss two physical arguments (based on polarization experiments and on lack of monopole electromagnetic radiation) and the full argument for the transversality of (plane) electromagnetic waves based on the integral Maxwell equations. We also show, at a level appropriate for the introductory course, why the electric and magnetic fields in a wave are in phase and the relation of their magnitudes. (Contains 6 figures.)
Institute of Physics Publishing. The Public Ledger Building Suite 929, 150 South Independence Mall West, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 215-627-0880; Fax: 215-627-0879; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: Students; Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A