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Steven Weinberg

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If you have bought one of those T-shirts with Maxwell's equations on the front, you may have to worry about its going out of style, but not about its becoming false. We will go on teaching Maxwellian electrodynamics as long as there are scientists.
--
"The Revolution That Didn't Happen" in The New York Review of Books (1998)

 
Steven Weinberg

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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.

 
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From a long view of the history of mankind seen from, say, ten thousand years from now, there can be little doubt that the most significant event of the 19th century will be judged as Maxwell's discovery of the laws of electrodynamics. The American Civil War will pale into provincial insignificance in comparison with this important scientific event of the same decade.

 
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Reflections of this type made it clear to me as long ago as shortly after 1900, i.e., shortly after Planck's trailblazing work, that neither mechanics nor electrodynamics could (except in limiting cases) claim exact validity. By and by I despaired of the possibility of discovering the true laws by means of constructive efforts based on known facts. The longer and the more despairingly I tried, the more I came to the conviction that only the discovery of a universal formal principle could lead us to assured results. . . . How, then, could such a universal principle be found? After ten years of reflection such a principle resulted from a paradox upon which I had already hit at the age of sixteen: If I pursue a beam of light with the velocity c (velocity of light in a vacuum), I should observe such a beam as a spatially oscillatory electromagnetic field at rest. However, there seems to be no such thing, whether on the bases of experience or according to Maxwell's equations. From the very beginning it appeared to me intuitively clear that, judged from the stand-point of such an observer, everything would have to happen according to the same laws as for an observer who, relative to the earth, was at rest.

 
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The special theory of relativity owes its origins to Maxwell's equations of the electromagnetic field.

 
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