Wednesday, August 22, 2018
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It is not particularly satisfactory to see equations set forth as direct results of observation and experiment, where we used to get long mathematical deductions as apparent proofs of them. Nevertheless, I believe that we cannot, without deceiving ourselves, extract much more from known facts than is asserted in the papers referred to. If we wish to lend more color to the theory, there is nothing to prevent us from supplementing all this and aiding our powers of imagination by concrete representations of the various conceptions as to the nature of electric polarisation, the electric current, etc.

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Electric Waves: Being Researches on the Propagation of Electric Action with Finite Velocity Through Space (1900), p. 28Heinrich Hertz

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We shall see that the mathematical treatment of the subject [of electricity] has been greatly developed by writers who express themselves in terms of the 'Two Fluids' theory. Their results, however, have been deduced entirely from data which can be proved by experiment, and which must therefore be true, whether we adopt the theory of two fluids or not. The experimental verification of the mathematical results therefore is no evidence for or against the peculiar doctrines of this theory.

James Clerk Maxwell

Gravitational force is simple, and a thing by itself, as also are electric and magnetic forces as long as the electric and magnetic poles stand at rest. But as soon as motion comes into the picture, the whole situation is changed. Forces of new kinds come into play, for moving electric charges exert magnetic forces in addition to the electric forces they exert when at rest, while moving magnets exert electric forces in addition to the magnetic forces they exert while at rest. When the exact laws governing these intricate laws had been discovered by a great number of experimenters, Clerk Maxwell succeeded in expressing them in a mathematical form which was both simple and elegant.

James Jeans

Electric and magnetic forces. May they live for ever, and never be forgot, if only to remind us that the science of electromagnetics, in spite of the abstract nature of its theory, involving quantities whose nature is entirely unknown at the present, is really and truly founded on the observations of real Newtonian forces, electric and magnetic respectively.

Oliver Heaviside

If we consider further the manifold relations of this mathematical theory to civil uses and the technical arts, we shall recognize completely the extent of its applications. It is evident that it includes an entire series of distinct phenomena, and that the study of it cannot be omitted without losing a notable part of the science of nature.

The principles of the theory are derived, as are those of rational mechanics, from a very small number of primary facts, the causes of which are not considered by geometers, but which they admit as the results of common observations confirmed by all experiment.Joseph Fourier

The law that entropy always increases, holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell's equations — then so much the worse for Maxwell's equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation — well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

Arthur Stanley Eddington

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