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Maxwell

Posted by ubpdqn on July 23, 2011

One hundred and fifty years ago James Clerk Maxwell published On Physical Lines of Force. The observations of scientists like Oersted, Ampere and Faraday regarding electricity and magnetism were now placed on a firm mathematical foundation.

In Maxwell’s 48 years he not only provided physical and mathematical insights into the world but was an exemplary human being… an uncommon man.

There are a number of formulations of Maxwell’s equations depending on physical  contexts and mathematical formalisms (differential or integral forms; use of potential functions; tensorial forms).  Maxwell went beyond merely providing mathematical representations of the relationships of  static and dynamic electric and magnetic phenomena (collated as Gauss Law, Gauss Law of Magentism, Faraday’s Law, Ampere’s Law with Maxwell’s correction/Displacement current).

In Let There Be Light, I explore Maxwell’s amazing insight. In the absence of charges, there exist non-trivial wave solutions to his equations. Further, speed of propagation of these waves was calculable using constants from the considerations of static charges (the permittivity of free space) a and magnetic dipoles (the permeability of free space). The speed of propagation matched the estimates for the speed of light. Maxwell posited that light was a self propagating electromagnetic wave. The world was changed…

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