Classical electromagnetism via relativity by William Geraint Vaughan Rosser

By William Geraint Vaughan Rosser

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We can now finish off the argument. We have the similarity relations (m + n)/b = b/n or b 2 = n(m + n) = nc and (m + n)/a = a/m or a 2 = m(m + n). Adding these together we have a 2 + b 2 = c 2 , which is the Pythagorean theorem. Despite the appeal of the “holy geometry book,’’ Einstein never had much interest in pure mathematics for its own sake. Towards the end of his life he wrote, I saw that mathematics was split up into numerous specialties, each of which could easily absorb the short lifetime granted to us.

I asked Miss Dukas whether Einstein had chosen the art. She said that what had happened is that there had been an etching of Newton which had come out of its frame. This happened after Einstein’s death and it had been replaced by the modern art. I found this very amusing. As we shall see, Einstein’s theory of relativity leaves Maxwell intact, but replaces Newton. 35 Secrets of the Old One The 17th century is often referred to as the age of Newton. I think the 19th century might be called the age of Maxwell.

Here, I want to focus on a small part of his electromagnetic work. Maxwell first derived his equations using a baroque model of the aether in which, for example, rotating vortices represented magnetic fields. How he was able to see through the details of this model to the underlying equations is a mystery to me. In any event, by the time he came to write his book, the model had disappeared. The equations remain. When contemplating his model, Maxwell asked himself how would a disturbance in this aether propagate.

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