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Electrically induced magnetic fields; a consistent approach

### Abstract

Electromagnetic radiation exists because changing magnetic fields induce changing electric fields and vice versa. This fact often appears inconsistent with the way some physics textbooks solve particular problems using Faraday’s law. These types of problems often ask students to find the induced electric field given a current that does not vary linearly with time. A typical example involves a long solenoid carrying a sinusoidal current. This problem is usually solved as an example or assigned as a homework exercise. The solution offered by many textbooks uses the approximation that the induced, changing electric field produces a negligible magnetic field, which is only valid at low frequencies. If this approximation is not explicitly acknowledged, then the solution appears inconsistent with the description of electromagnetic radiation. In other cases, when the problem is solved without this approximation, the electric and magnetic fields are derived from the vector potential. We present a detailed calculation of the electric and magnetic fields inside and outside the long solenoid without using the vector potential. We then offer a comparison of our solution and a solution given in an introductory textbook.

© 2003 American Association of Physics Teachers

Received 19 April 2002
Accepted 02 May 2003
Published online 12 August 2003