By Salvo D’Agostino (auth.)
This booklet offers a standpoint at the heritage of theoretical physics over the last thousands years. It contains essays at the background of pre-Maxwellian electrodynamics, of Maxwell's and Hertz's box theories, and of the current century's relativity and quantum physics. a typical thread around the essays is the quest for and the exploration of issues that stimulated major con ceptual alterations within the nice stream of principles 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 9 teenth century, it was once challenging for plenty 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 recent self-discipline, confessed in 1895 that, "even the formula of this idea [of a theoretical physicist] isn't fullyyt with no difficulty". 1 even though technology had constantly been divided into thought and test, it was once purely in physics that theoretical paintings constructed right into a significant learn and instructing forte in its personal correct. 2 it's actual that theoretical physics used to be in most cases a production of tum of-the century German physics, the place it acquired complete institutional reputation, however it is additionally indisputable that extraordinary physicists in different eu international locations, particularly, Ampere, Fourier, and Maxwell, additionally had a tremendous half in its creation.
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Additional info for A History of the Ideas of Theoretical Physics: Essays on the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Physics
By his experiments with the electric balances. Leaving for my final chapter a critical appraisal of Ampere's ideas, let me briefly note that Ampere's mathematical physics was in the tradition of D' Alembert and Lagrange's Mechanics and that it was soon enhanced by Fourier's great approach to the theory of heat propagation. The methods of the French mathematical physicists were somehow defeated by Faraday's methods and by Maxwell's analogical approach to theory. It seems that Ampere was inclined to consider magnetic forces as a modification of electric forces due to the motion of electric charges.
He wanted to prove that in his MATHEMATICS IN AMPERE AND WEBER 27 FL, another constant appeared which did not have unit value. He soon discovered that in order to have a quantitative base for his definition of a complete system of electric quantities, a numerical knowledge of this constant was indispensable. , it should be a fundamental constant independent of the choice of units and systems. Weber's research program in the following ten years was mainly aimed at determining and measuring this constant.
Augustin Fresnel and Augustin Luois Chauchy, among others, succeeded in showing how some complicated effects of christalline optics could be explained by apt elastic hypothesis and mathematical analysis. George Green and Gabriel Stockes in England had pursued the methods of mathematicalphysics to work out elastic theories of an optical ether. Maxwell himself contributed 11 to elasticity in one of his first scientific papers. This background is relevant for an assessment of Maxwell's initial approach to Weber's factor, explaining why he accepted that, in his first identification of this factor with the velocity of light, the elastic theory could still have a role.