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Observation of static electromagnetic angular momentum in vacua


Our programme of measurement of forces related to electromagnetic momentum at low frequencies in matter has culminated in the first direct observation of free electromagnetic angular momentum created by quasistatic and independent electromagnetic fields E and B in the vacuum gap of a cylindrical capacitor. A resonant suspension is used to detect its motion. The observed changes in angular momentum agree with the classical theory within the error of 20%. This implies that the vacuum is the seat of something in motion whenever static fields are set up with non-vanishing Poynting vector, as Maxwell and Poynting foresaw.

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Graham, G., Lahoz, D. Observation of static electromagnetic angular momentum in vacua. Nature 285, 154–155 (1980).

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