The charge-magnet paradoxes of classical electrodynamics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations


A number of charge-magnet paradoxes have been discussed in the literature, beginning with Shockley's famous 1967 paper, where he introduced the notion of hidden momentum in electromagnetic systems. We discuss all these paradoxes in a single, general context, showing that the conservation laws of linear and angular momenta can be satisfied without the need for hidden entities, provided that the Einstein-Laub laws of force and torque are used in place of the standard Lorentz law. Einstein and Laub published their paper in 1908, but the simplicity of the conventional Lorentz law overshadowed the subtle features of their formulation which, at first sight, appears somewhat complicated. However, that slight complication turns out to lead to subsequent advantages in light of Shockley's discovery of hidden momentum, which occurred more than a decade after Einstein had passed away. In this paper, we show how the Einstein-Laub formalism handles the underlying problems associated with certain paradoxes of classical electrodynamics involving a static distribution of electric charges and a magnet whose magnetization slowly fades away in time. The Einstein-Laub laws of electromagnetic force and torque treat these paradoxes with elegance and without contradicting the existing body of knowledge, which has been confirmed by more than one and a half century of theoretical and experimental investigations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpintronics VII
EditorsHenri-Jean Drouhin, Jean-Eric Wegrowe, Manijeh Razeghi
ISBN (Electronic)9781628411942
StatePublished - 2014
EventSpintronics VII - San Diego, United States
Duration: Aug 17 2014Aug 21 2014

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


OtherSpintronics VII
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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