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Maxwell's Equations: De nition & Application
Chapter 15 / Lesson 11  Transcript
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You are viewing lesson 11 in chapter 15 of the course:
 Physics: High School
18 chapters | 212 lessons
Ch 15. Magnetism in Physics
The Biot-Savart Law: De nition & Examples
Ampere's Law: De nition & Examples
Maxwell's Equations: De nition & Application
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: DDaavvidid WoWooodd
David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in
Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.
After watching this video, you will be able to explain what Maxwell's equations are, the basic principles behind each one, and
what bene ts they have led to in society. A short quiz will follow.
What Are Maxwell's Equations?
Maxwell's equations are a series of four partial di erential equations that describe the force of electromagnetism. They were
derived by mathematician James Clerk Maxwell, who rst published them in 1861 and in 1862. Individually, the four equations
are named Gauss' law, Gauss' law for magnetism, Faraday's law and Ampere's law. The equations look like this:
While using these equations involves integrating (calculus), we
can still talk about what each law represents conceptually, and
how they're used:
Gauss' law relates the distribution of electric charge to
the eld that charge creates. If you know the shape of
the object and, therefore, how the charge is distributed,
you can use Gauss' law to gure out an expression for
the electric eld. This is generally used when there's a
degree of symmetry, making the equation simpler.
Gauss' law for magnetism says that magnetic
monopoles do not exist. It's really more of a statement
than something we might use to derive expressions.
FFoouurr MMaaxxwwellell eqequuaattioionnss
Charges exist as positive or negative. But in magnetism,
whenever you have a south pole, you also have a north pole - there are no single, or monopoles, as yet discovered.
Faraday's law says that any change to the magnetic environment of a coil of wire will cause a voltage to be induced in the
coil. If the magnetic eld strength changes, or the magnet moves, or the coil moves, or the coil is rotated - any of these
things will create a voltage in the coil.
Ampere's law says that the magnetic eld created by an electric current is proportional to the size of that electric current,
with a constant of proportionality equal to the permeability of free space. Stationary charges produce electric elds,
proportional to the magnitude of that charge. But moving charges produce magnetic elds, proportional to the current
(the charge and movement).
Applications of Maxwell
The uses and applications of Maxwell's equations are just too many to count. By understanding electromagnetism we're able to
create images of the body using MRI scanners in hospitals; we've created magnetic tape, generated electricity, and built
computers. Any device that uses electricity or magnets is on a fundamental level built upon the original discovery of Maxwell's
While using Maxwell's equations often involves calculus, there are simpli ed versions of the equations we can study. These
versions only work in certain circumstances, but can be useful and save a lot of trouble. Let's look at one of these - the simpli ed
version of Faraday's law.
As a reminder, Faraday's law says that any change to the magnetic environment of a coil of wire will cause a voltage to be
induced in the coil. And we can quantify those changes in a simple equation. Doing so gives you this equation below, where N is
the number of turns on the coil of wire, delta BA is the change in the magnetic eld times the area of the coil of wire, and delta t
is the time over which that change occurs.
This equation will give you the voltage produced in the coil. If
anything changes the values of B or A, a voltage will be
Let's go through an example of how to use the simpli ed
version of Faraday's law. A coil of wire is placed in an external
magnetic eld of strength 0.1 teslas. The coil has 50 turns on
it, and a cross-sectional area of 0.05 meters squared. If the
eld strength is changed to 0.4 teslas gradually, over a period
of 3 seconds, what voltage will be induced in the coil of wire?
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