What Is an Example of Action at a Distance?

Simple magnetic fields and the gravitational pull exerted on all physical objects are examples of action at a distance. Unlike a contact force, action at a distance entails the movement or influence of an object without the need for physical contact.

Physicists first began to conceive of action at a distance in order to account for failures in early atomistic and mechanistic theories. The exploration and eventual resolution of failures in the Newtonian model of the physical universe led to the theory of action at a distance and resulted in a number of important advances in the field of physics.