It always bugs my mind to think which comes first, it feels like the egg or the chicken problem. When i was reading about the discovery of the electron i found that the charge to mass ratio of the electron was discovered by J.J Thomson, with his cathode ray tube experiment. Which used the idea of electricity to come to his conclusion. and i also read the equations he used where the equation of Force due to the electric field and magnetic field. $F_m=Bqv$ and $F_e=Ed$. But where electric fields and there equations were discovered in his time. I mean does it seem logical that humans have discover the electric force before discovering the electron who are the causes for the electric field. I would like it if you can provide me what is discovered first and how the one is used for the other supported by a time line. Electric forces or properties of electrons

I mean how could J.J Thomson use equations that use the charge of electron like $F_m=Bqv$ before he even knows there existence. And how could a force of magnetic field due to a charge be thought before the discovery of this idea of a charged particle. Did the discovery of the electron led to the formulation of the equation of force by magnetic fields. Or did the magnetic field equations led to the discovery of the electron.

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    $\begingroup$ Electric force was known in the ancient Greece. Electron was discovered only in 19th century. $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Eremenko Apr 26 at 11:50
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    $\begingroup$ Trivial. Simple search in Wikipedia gives the answer. $\endgroup$ – Alexandre Eremenko Apr 26 at 11:51
  • $\begingroup$ Isn't it odd we knew and quantized electric force and electric field before knowing particles that created it. doesn't it sound a controversy. i mean the electric force is calculated using columb's law, which uses charges. but if the electron is not discovered how can you talk about charge. isnt charge a property of subatomic particles. $\endgroup$ – Hilea Apr 26 at 11:54
  • $\begingroup$ "electric force is calculated using columb's law, which uses charges". People knew electricity, but quantifying it came later. At least up until the mid-late 19th century the nomenclature used to describe electric phenomena was quite different than the one we use today, and the understanding of the diverse electric and magnetic phenomena was quite rudimentary compared to what is taught now, even if one teaches laws that where discovered at that time. $\endgroup$ – David Apr 26 at 12:12
  • $\begingroup$ Electricity was considered a fluid (a continuum). There was no concept of quantization of charges in the time of Franklin, Coulomb and even Maxwell. $\endgroup$ – M. Farooq Apr 26 at 12:21

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