By S. D'Agostino

This ebook provides a point of view at the heritage of theoretical physics during the last hundreds and hundreds years. It includes essays at the historical past of pre-Maxwellian electrodynamics, of Maxwell's and Hertz's box theories, and of the current century's relativity and quantum physics. a standard thread around the essays is the quest for and the exploration of topics that inspired major con ceptual adjustments within the nice move of rules and experiments which heralded the emergence of theoretical physics (hereafter: TP). the thrill. damental switch concerned the popularity of the scien tific validity of theoretical physics. within the moment 1/2 the nine teenth century, it used to be difficult for lots of physicists to appreciate the character and scope of theoretical physics and of its adept, the theoreti cal physicist. A physicist like Ludwig Boltzmann, one of many eminent individuals to the hot self-discipline, confessed in 1895 that, "even the formula of this idea [of a theoretical physicist] isn't completely with out difficulty". 1 even supposing technology had regularly been divided into conception and scan, it was once basically in physics that theoretical paintings constructed right into a significant study and educating area of expertise in its personal correct. 2 it's precise that theoretical physics was once commonly a construction of tum of-the century German physics, the place it bought complete institutional attractiveness, however it can be indisputable that extraordinary physicists in different eu nations, specifically, Ampere, Fourier, and Maxwell,

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**Extra resources for A History of the Ideas of Theoretical Physics: Essays on the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Physics**

**Example text**

26 In fact, he listed three "facts" (Tatsachen) that represented particular cases of Ampere's law, corresponding to particular positions of the current elements and of the conducting wires: First Fact. 27 The other two "facts" concerned the actions between two parallel current elements, lying perpendicular to their joining line, and the current induced by a current element on an element of wire lying on the same line. e. one considers the exerted forces as reciprocal actions of electric masses.

A capacitor (Leyden jar) is charged, and the charge Q on one MATHEMATICS IN AMPERE AND WEBER 31 of its two plates is measured in electrostatic units. 52 The same capacitor is then discharged through a coil, and the time-integrated current which flows through the coil is measured through the deflection of the tangent galvanometer. 53 In order to measure in magnetic units Q, the charge of the jar, the same deflection of the tangent galvanometer was produced through a constant unit current (in em units) flowing for a short time 'to (I use throughout the letter Q in place of Weber's E, for avoiding confusion between Weber's notation and the E used by Maxwell, as reported in the following chapter).

Part B presented more diffculties in as much as Weber's theory was an action-at-a-distance theory, and the ethereal constants were foreign to it. A correlation between parts A and B was required to prove that the velocity of the electromagnetic waves was equal to Weber's ratio and the velocity of light. This correlation constituted in fact the above mentioned indirect measurement of EMW velocity. The development of the complex set of conceptions and theories, which largely deal with part A, have been adequately analyzed in recent years by historians 3; however, part B has until now escaped their attention, although I think that this part also offers interesting clues.