By S. D'Agostino

ISBN-10: 1402002440

ISBN-13: 9781402002441

This publication offers a viewpoint at the background of theoretical physics during the last 1000s years. It contains 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 subject matters that inspired major con ceptual adjustments within the nice circulation of principles and experiments which heralded the emergence of theoretical physics (hereafter: TP). the joys. damental switch concerned the popularity of the scien tific validity of theoretical physics. within the moment half the nine teenth century, it was once difficult 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 solely with no difficulty". 1 even if technological know-how had regularly been divided into conception and test, it used to be in basic terms in physics that theoretical paintings constructed right into a significant examine and educating distinctiveness in its personal correct. 2 it really is actual that theoretical physics used to be in general a construction of tum of-the century German physics, the place it acquired complete institutional attractiveness, however it is usually indisputable that impressive physicists in different ecu nations, specifically, Ampere, Fourier, and Maxwell,

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43 This definition of c determined solely by the condition that the force disappears makes it fully independent, by definition, from any conventional ratio of units. In Section IV of his 1852 paper, Weber underlined the connection between the derivation of his FL and the foundation of com- MATHEMATICS IN AMPERE AND WEBER 29 plete systems of absolute units for electric and magnetic quantities. He emphasized the point that in line of principles the determination of a complete system of units for electrodynamics "without any relation with the magnetic measurements" was thus achieved.

Gauss's and Weber's Metrology. , one of those mathematicians who are familiar with the finest means of observation". It was in fact this combination of high mathematical expertise and great experimental ingenuity that characterised Gauss's research method. Throughout 1832 Gauss worked to develop and test a method forÂ· measuring the quantity and direction of the earth's magnetic intensity, independently of the characteristics of the measuring compass. In fact, the methods used until then were largely unreliable mainly because the measures were dependent on the particular magnetic moment of the compass employed and were variable in time due to variations in this moment.

Weber's and Kirchhoff's context of ideas, embedded as it was in a particle-based approach to electrodynamics permitted a mere numerical quasi-equality between c and the light velocity to have little significance. Consider in this regard the role that Weber and Kirchhoff attributed to c in their proposal of a generalized metro- MATHEMATICS IN AMPERE AND WEBER 33 logical program, based on two fundamental constants. In their 1856 paper,59 they proposed that both Newton's gravitational law and the fundamental law of electric action be assumed as fundamental laws of nature (Grundgesetze der Natur).

### A History of the Ideas of Theoretical Physics: Essays on the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Physics by S. D'Agostino

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