Charge acceleration and field-lines curvature: A fundamental symmetry and consequent asymmetries

Avshalom C. Elitzur, Eliahu Cohen, Paz Beniamini

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


When a charge accelerates, its field-lines curve in a typical pattern. This pattern resembles the curvature induced on the field-lines by a neighboring charge. Not only does the latter case involve a similar curvature, it moreover results in attraction/repulsion. This suggests a hitherto unnoticed causal symmetry: charge acceleration ⇔ field curvature. We prove quantitatively that these two phenomena are essentially one and the same. The field stores some of the charge's mass, yet it is extended in space, hence when the charge accelerates, inertia makes the field lag behind. The resulting stress in the field stores some of the charge's kinetic energy in the form of potential energy. The electrostatic interaction is the approximate mirror image of this process: The potential energy stored within the field turns into the charge's kinetic energy. This partial symmetry offers novel insights into two debated issues in electromagnetism The question whether a charge radiates in a gravitational field receives a new twist: If all the charge's field-lines end with opposite charges that also resist gravity, no radiation is expected. Similarly for the famous absence of a physical manifestation of the Maxwell equations' advanced solution: Just as Einstein argued, the reason for this absence is probabilistic rather than reflecting some inherent time-asymmetry. Despite the apparent equivalence between the "ontological" and "instrumentalist" viewpoints concerning the physical reality of field-lines, there may be cases in which their experimental predictions differ.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSecond Law of Thermodynamics
Subtitle of host publicationStatus and Challenges
Number of pages24
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes
Event2nd Law of Thermodynamics: Status and Challenges - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: 14 Jun 201115 Jun 2011

Publication series

NameAIP Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0094-243X
ISSN (Electronic)1551-7616


Conference2nd Law of Thermodynamics: Status and Challenges
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA


  • Electromagnetism
  • General Relativity
  • Irreversibility
  • Time-Symmetry


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