Electrodynamics from Ampere to Einstein

Paperback | December 1, 2002

byOlivier DarrigolAs told byOlivier Darrigol

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Three quarters of a century elapsed between Ampere's definition of electrodynamics and Einstein's reform of the concepts of space and time. The two events occurred in utterly different worlds: the French Academy of Sciences of the 1820s seems very remote from the Bern Patent Office of theearly 1900s, and the forces between two electric currents quite foreign to the optical synchronization of clocks. Yet Ampere's electrodynamics and Einstein's relativity are firmly connected through a historical chain involving German extensions of Ampere's work, competition with British fieldconceptions, Dutch synthesis, and fin de siecle criticism of the aether-matter connection. Olivier Darrigol retraces this intriguing evolution, with a physicist's attention to conceptual and instrumental developments, and with a historian's awareness of their cultural and material embeddings.This book exploits a wide range of sources, and incorporates the many important insights of other scholars. Thorough accounts are given of crucial episodes such as Faraday's redefinition of charge and current, the genesis of Maxwell's field equations, and Hertz's experiments on fast electricoscillations. Thus there emerges a vivid picture of the intellectual and instrumental variety of nineteenth-century physics. The most influential investigators worked at the crossroads between different disciplines and traditions: they did not separate theory from experiment, they frequently drew oncompeting traditions, and their scientific interests extended beyond physics into chemistry, mathematics, physiology, and other areas. By bringing out these important features, this book offers a tightly connected and yet sharply contrasted view of early electrodynamics.Olivier Darrigol is a Research Director at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris. His research focuses on the history of quantum theory and of electrodynamics.

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Three quarters of a century elapsed between Ampere's definition of electrodynamics and Einstein's reform of the concepts of space and time. The two events occurred in utterly different worlds: the French Academy of Sciences of the 1820s seems very remote from the Bern Patent Office of theearly 1900s, and the forces between two electric...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:552 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 1.08 inPublished:December 1, 2002Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198505930

ISBN - 13:9780198505938

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Table of Contents

Preface; 1 Foundations; 2 German precision; 3 British fields; 4 Clerk Maxwell; 5 British Maxwellians; 6 Open currents; 7 Conduction of electrolytes and gases; 8 The electron theories; 9 Old principles and a new world view; Appendices 1-12

Editorial Reviews

`In its sophistication of analysis and detail of presentation, this treatise will surely become a standard resource for historians of science in the coming century. Darrigol offers a richly textured narrative, painstaking in its attention to detail and compelling in conceptual thrust, a work which will repay attention by historians and philosophers of physics.'Peter Harman, Studies in history and philosophy of modern physics