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Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2011 Aug;84(2 Pt 2):026611. Epub 2011 Aug 18.

Relativistic impulse dynamics.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-2128, USA.


Classical electrodynamics has some annoying rough edges. The self-energy of charges is infinite without a cutoff. The calculation of relativistic trajectories is difficult because of retardation and an average radiation reaction term. By reconceptuallizing electrodynamics in terms of exchanges of impulses rather than describing it by forces and potentials, we eliminate these problems. A fully relativistic theory using photonlike null impulses is developed. Numerical calculations for a two-body, one-impulse-in-transit model are discussed. A simple relationship between center-of-mass scattering angle and angular momentum was found. It reproduces the Rutherford cross section at low velocities and agrees with the leading term of relativistic distinguishable-particle quantum cross sections (Møller, Mott) when the distance of closest approach is larger than the Compton wavelength of the particle. Magnetism emerges as a consequence of viewing retarded and advanced interactions from the vantage point of an instantaneous radius vector. Radiation reaction becomes the local conservation of energy-momentum between the radiating particle and the emitted impulse. A net action is defined that could be used in developing quantum dynamics without potentials. A reinterpretation of Newton's laws extends them to relativistic motion.

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