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Lightning is an electrostatic discharge that travels between two charged regions.

Electromagnetism is a branch of physics involving the study of the electromagnetic force, a type of physical interaction that occurs between electrically charged particles. The electromagnetic force usually exhibits electromagnetic fields such as electric fields, magnetic fields, and light, and is one of the four fundamental interactions (commonly called forces) in nature. The other three fundamental interactions are the strong interaction, the weak interaction, and gravitation. At high energy the weak force and electromagnetic force are unified as a single electroweak force. Electromagnetic phenomena are defined in terms of the electromagnetic force, sometimes called the Lorentz force, which includes both electricity and magnetism as different manifestations of the same phenomenon. The electromagnetic force plays a major role in determining the internal properties of most objects encountered in daily life. Ordinary matter takes its form as a result of intermolecular forces between individual atoms and molecules in matter, and is a manifestation of the electromagnetic force. Electrons are bound by the electromagnetic force to atomic nuclei, and their orbital shapes and their influence on nearby atoms with their electrons is described by quantum mechanics. The electromagnetic force governs all chemical processes, which arise from interactions between the electrons of neighboring atoms.

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In physics, a magnetic field is the relativistic part of an electric field, as Einstein explained in 1905. When an electric charge is moving from the perspective of an observer, the electric field of this charge due to space contraction is no longer seen by the observer as spherically symmetric due to non-radial time dilation, and it must be computed using the Lorentz transformations. One of the products of these transformations is the part of the electric field which only acts on moving charges - and we call it the "magnetic field".

The quantum-mechanical motion of electrons in atoms produces the magnetic fields of permanent ferromagnets. Spinning charged particles also have magnetic moment. Some electrically neutral particles (like the neutron) with non-zero spin also have magnetic moment due to the charge distribution in their inner structure. Particles with zero spin never have magnetic moment.

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James Clerk Maxwell

James Clerk Maxwell (13 June 1831 – 5 November 1879) was a Scottish mathematical physicist, born in Edinburgh. Maxwell developed a set of equations expressing the basic laws of electricity and magnetism as well as the Maxwell distribution in the kinetic theory of gases. He was the last representative of a younger branch of the well-known Scottish family of Clerk of Penicuik.

Maxwell had perhaps one of the finest mathematical minds of any theoretical physicist of his time. Maxwell is widely regarded as the nineteenth century scientist who had the greatest influence on twentieth century physics, making contributions to the fundamental models of nature. In 1931, on the centennial anniversary of Maxwell's birthday, Einstein described Maxwell's work as the "most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton."

Algebraic mathematics with elements of geometry are a feature of much of Maxwell's work. Maxwell demonstrated that electric and magnetic forces are two complementary aspects of electromagnetism. He showed that electric and magnetic fields travel through space, in the form of waves, at a constant velocity of 3.0 × 108 m/s. He also proposed that light was a form of electromagnetic radiation.

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In casual usage, the term electricity is applied to several related concepts that are better identified by more precise terms:

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