A History of the Ideas of Theoretical Physics: Essays on the by Salvo D’Agostino (auth.)

By Salvo D’Agostino (auth.)

This publication provides a point of view at the background of theoretical physics over the last 1000's years. It includes essays at the heritage 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 hunt for and the exploration of subject matters that stimulated major con­ ceptual adjustments within the nice flow 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 used to be 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 hot self-discipline, confessed in 1895 that, "even the formula of this idea [of a theoretical physicist] isn't really fullyyt with out difficulty". 1 even if technological know-how had regularly been divided into concept and test, it used to be simply in physics that theoretical paintings constructed right into a significant learn and educating distinctiveness in its personal correct. 2 it truly is actual that theoretical physics used to be usually a production of tum­ of-the century German physics, the place it bought complete institutional attractiveness, however it is additionally indisputable that striking physicists in different eu international locations, particularly, Ampere, Fourier, and Maxwell, additionally had an enormous half in its creation.

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

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Gauss used a sensitive compass suspended from a torsionfree long silk wire (magnetometer) located in a special position with respect to the bifilar magnetometer. ll Understandably, the comparison of these measurments with others from different locations was improved when these data were related to the mechanical fundamental units of mass, space and time, for these were rather easily transferable to other locations. Due to both features (independence of instrument and independence of location), Gauss called the units "absolute".

THEORIES OF UNITS AND DIMENSIONS 41 Now it is nonsense to say that a unit of velocity is a unit of length divided by a unit of time in the ordinary sense of the words. But we find it convenient to give a new meaning to the wQrds "divided by" and to the symbols which shortly expresses them ... this convenience is made manifest when we have to change from one unit to another.... In 1982 Rudolf Clausius presented6 two lines of criticism to Maxwell's dimensional theories. The first line concerned a particular remark on the attribution of dimensions to the product [pC] in Maxwell's Treatise (Part IV, Chapter X).

Throughout 1832 Gauss worked to develop and test a method for· 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. The results were therefore unreliable for any investigation of the earth's magnetic variation at a given location over a long stretch of time.

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