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Introduction

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Electromagnetism is one of the most important branches of physics. The technological developments of the modern 21st century are primarily due to our understanding of electromagnetism. The forces we experience in everyday life are electromagnetic in nature except gravity.

In standard XI, we studied about the gravitational force, tension, friction, normal force etc. Newton treated them to be independent of each other with each force being a separate natural force. But what is the origin of all these forces? It is now understood that except gravity, all forces which we experience in every day life (tension in the string, normal force from the surface, friction etc.) arise from electromagnetic forces within the atoms. Some examples are

  • When an object is pushed, the atoms in our hand interact with the atoms in the object and this interaction is basically electromagnetic in nature.
  • When we stand on Earth’s surface, the gravitational force on us acts downwards and the normal force acts upward to counter balance the gravitational force. What is the origin of this normal force?

It arises due to the electromagnetic interaction of atoms on the surface of the Earth with the atoms present in the feet of the person. Though, we are attracted by the gravitational force of the Earth, we stand on Earth only because of electromagnetic force of atoms.

  • When an object is moved on a surface, static friction resists the motion of the object. This static friction arises due to electromagnetic interaction between the atoms present in the object and atoms on the Kinetic friction also has similar origin.

From these examples, it is clear that understanding electromagnetism is very essential to understand the universe in a holistic manner. The basic principles of  electromagnetism  are  dealt  with in volume 1 at XII standard physics. This unit deals with the behaviour and other related phenomena of charges at rest. This branch of electricity which deals with stationary charges is called Electrostatics.

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