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[Phys-L] What IS a field? (Was Re: Physics (chem.) Humor)

Bernard Cleyet wrote:

Is space empty when it contains fields. How is matter different from
its fields?

The more I learn about fields the more confused I am about them. Do the
particles create the fields or do the fields create the particles? Does
that question even make sense? What IS a field?

I do tell my students that an electric field (for example) is a real
thing, just as real as the charged particle that creates it. But
thankfully, no one has asked me to elaborate on "create."

Rodney Dunning
Assistant Professor of Physics
Birmingham-Southern College


cliff parker wrote:

When we discuss gravity each year many of my High School students are
fascinated to learn that gravitational fields are surrounding everything
with mass not just planets, stars and such. When I finally get them to
understand and buy into the idea that all massive things produce
gravitational fields and that gravitational fields tend to increase with
mass I ask them if they wouldn't all agree that I am by far the most
attractive person in the room. My 240 pounds usually qualifies me for this
honor. That brings down the house. About two years ago I had a student
reply "Mr. Parker, the dumpsters out behind the building were more
attractive than you!"

Another story... I was explaining that all matter is mostly empty space.
As part of that discussion I walked over to the wall and bumped into it
asking why I did not pass right on through the wall if the wall and I were
both mostly nothing. One student shouted for the back of the room, "Why
don't you try running faster!"

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