A History of the Ideas of Theoretical Physics: Essays on the by S. D'Agostino

By S. D'Agostino

This e-book provides a point of view at the background of theoretical physics over the last 1000s years. It contains 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 quest for and the exploration of subject matters that motivated major con­ ceptual alterations within the nice stream of principles and experiments which heralded the emergence of theoretical physics (hereafter: TP). the joys. damental swap concerned the popularity of the scien­ tific validity of theoretical physics. within the moment half the nine­ teenth century, it used to be 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 participants to the hot self-discipline, confessed in 1895 that, "even the formula of this idea [of a theoretical physicist] isn't fullyyt with out difficulty". 1 even supposing technology had continuously been divided into thought and scan, it used to be merely in physics that theoretical paintings built right into a significant study and instructing area of expertise in its personal correct. 2 it truly is real that theoretical physics was once generally a production of tum­ of-the century German physics, the place it obtained complete institutional attractiveness, however it can be indisputable that notable physicists in different ecu nations, specifically, Ampere, Fourier, and Maxwell,

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In a work36 published in 1851, he showed that when absolute magnetic units for current intensity (Weber: "the absolute unit of current in the magnetic system ") and absolute units for electromotive force are determined, it is possible to define absolute units of resistance as well. Weber's program of precise definitions and measurement was taken up again in 1852, when he studied37 how his absolute systems of units could be extended to comprise the resistance of conductors through Ohm's law. , dimensionless) and have unit value.

The static force between e and e' ,was written without multiplicative constants and this implied, as Weber pointed out, the selection of appropriate units for the measures e, e', of the charges, units which he labelled mechanical units of charge. dr)2 dt' and of a force depending on acceleration: In order to compare these two forces with special forms of Ampere's 24 CHAPTER 1 law ( i. e. fonns of this law occurring in Weber's three facts), Weber used 29 expressions connecting ~~ and ~:2with Ampere's elements of current ids, i'ds', and with the velocities, V, V" of the electric masses with respect to the wires (Weher: "absolute velocities").

Followed Maxwell's views. William Kingdom Clifford, on the other hand, took a more articulated position in 1878, underlying the conventional character of the new symbolisation of dimensions and justifying its convenience in the calculation of the change of units; however, opposing Thomson, he warned5 that this convenience could be a cause for "nonsense" if the meaning of dimensions was unduly extended: [V] = [L]/[T] ... Here the word per has been replaced by the sign for divided by. 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.

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