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A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field. Received October 27, - Read December 8, 1864.
London, Taylor and Francis, 1865. 4to. No wrappers as extracted from "Philosophical Transactions", Vol. 155. Title-page to volume 155. Pp. 459-512. Title-page with minor light browning at corners. Internally clean. A stamp on verso of title-page.. First printing of this fundamental paper, in which Maxwell unified the theory of light-waves, electricity, and magnetism in his spectacular laws of electromagnetism. The paper represents THE BIRTH OF ONE OF THE GREATEST DISCOVERIES IN THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE and the most SPECTACULAR TRIUMPH OF THE 19TH CENTURY - it had an enormous impact on science and technology. Working out a few simple equations that expressed all the varied phenomena of electricity and magnetism, Maxwell bound them indissolubly together, showing that electricity and magnetism could not exist in isolation. Maxwell's suggestion that electromagnetic waves could be generated in a laboratory was confirmed by Heinrich Hertz's in 1887 and laid the foundations for the later inventions of radio, television, and radar."Since Maxwell's time, Physical Reality has been thought of as represented by continuous fields...not capable of any mechanical interpretation. This change in the conception of Reality is the most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton."(Albert Einstein in "James Clerk Maxwell" 1931)."James Clerk Maxwell (1831-79) succeeded in formulating Faraday's geometrical ideas in exact mathematical language. He became the founder of the electromagnetic field theory which described all electric and magnetic action as the consequence of eight partial differential equations of the first order, the celebrated "Maxwellian equations". These equations established the interrelation between two fundamental field vectors, the electric and the magnetic field strength, based on Faraday's experiments, but augmented by the 'displacement current' which was too small to be directly observable by the instruments available in his time - it was put in solely by Maxwell's ingenious intuition.....The Maxwellian theory gave Faraday's field ideas their full significance and became the most important accomplishment of nineteenth-century physics. We could not imagine the physics of our day without the Maxwellian theory, even if we know today that these equations describe the electric phenomena only in their macroscopic manifestations, but fail to account for the atomistic structure of electricity demonstrated by the existence of the electron and proton." (Cornelius Lanzos in "The Einstein Decade (1905-1915", p.71-72)."A generation later Einstein's work on relativity was founded directly upon Maxwell's electromagnetic theory; it was this that led him to equate Faraday with Galileo and Maxwell with Newton." (PMM No 355). - Dibner. Heralds of Science No 68. - Milestones of Science No 144
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