By Salvo D’Agostino (auth.)
This publication provides a point of view at the background of theoretical physics over the last hundreds and hundreds years. It includes 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 hunt for and the exploration of subject matters that encouraged major con ceptual alterations within the nice move 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 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 participants to the hot self-discipline, confessed in 1895 that, "even the formula of this idea [of a theoretical physicist] isn't solely with no difficulty". 1 even though technological know-how had regularly been divided into concept and test, it used to be in basic terms in physics that theoretical paintings constructed right into a significant study and instructing distinctiveness in its personal correct. 2 it really is real that theoretical physics used to be as a rule a production of tum of-the century German physics, the place it obtained complete institutional reputation, however it can be indisputable that awesome physicists in different eu nations, particularly, Ampere, Fourier, and Maxwell, additionally had an incredible half in its creation.
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Additional resources for A History of the Ideas of Theoretical Physics: Essays on the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Physics
This demonstration is presented in different forms along with the development of Maxwell's electromagnetic theory, since the first paper he devoted to this problem in 1862, until his 1873 masterwork: A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism. In all of these works Maxwell is faced with the problem of checking a theoretical value of the velocity of the electromagnetic waves, calculated by his electromagnetic field theory, against the velocity of light, known to him because of theoptical measurements made by Fizeau (1849) and Foucault (1862), and also because ofthe measured aberration of light.
4 William Thomson is in good company with Maxwell in identifying dimensions of a quantity in a given system with the quantity itself ( This I call Maxwell's transitional principle). In Thomson's hyperbolic mood: I suppose almost everyone present would think it simple idiocy if I went to say that the weight of that piece of chalk is the fourth power of seven or eight yards for hour; yet it would be perfectly good sense. This type of identification is what Maxwell proposed in his 1863 Report and in his Treatise.
Forces are central and they obey the principle of action and reaction. Taking our stand on this formidable problem, no less than that of the factual foundation of an empirical science, clearly those statements that Weber and Duhem considered hypotheses, were for Ampere mechanical principles, constitutive foundational axioms; on these foundations he constructed his theory. The notion that forces were central was for him an axiom constitutive of the force concept: Je n'ai fait aucune recherche sur la cause meme qu'on peut assigner a ces forces, bien convaincu que toute recherche de ce genre doit etre precedee de la connaissance purement experimentale des lois, et de la determination, uniquement deduite de ces lois, de la valeur des forces elementaires dont la direction est necessairement celie de La droite menee par Les points materiels entre les quels elles s' exercent [my italics].