By Robert Purrington
Placing physics into the old context of the commercial Revolution and the ecu geographical region, Purrington lines the most figures, together with Faraday, Maxwell, Kelvin, and Helmholtz, in addition to their interactions, experiments, discoveries, and debates. The good fortune of nineteenth-century physics laid the root for quantum conception and relativity within the 20th. Robert D. Purrington is a professor of physics at Tulane collage and coauthor of body of the Universe.
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Additional resources for Physics in the nineteenth century
Many, in fact, have stayed thoroughly classical, showing only the faintest impact from quantum theory or relativity. An example is acoustics, which was outlined by Lord Rayleigh (William Strutt) in his Theory of Sound, first published in 1877 and revised in 1894. Although acoustics remains a vigorous field of applied physics today, much of it would appear familiar to Rayleigh if he were to read a modern paper. Some of the mathematical techniques are different, of course, as are many of the applications (such as underwater sound).
For permission to quote from the Whewell-Faraday correspondence in the Wren Library at Trinity College, Cambridge, I thank the Master and Fellows of Trinity College and gratefully acknowledge the assistance of John Smith of the Wren Library. For permission to use the library of the Royal Institution and to quote from Faraday letters in its possession, I thank the Royal Institution and especially Irene McCabe. Permission to use the library at the University of Edinburgh is also gratefully acknowledged.
But even particle physics, operating in a realm beyond the reach of commonsense ideas, is different only in a limited and technical sense. We know that our picture of the fundamental aspects of matter (for example, the microscopic world) will be different in a century or a millennium, that the language itself will be different. But the phenomena survive, however differently they may be described and interpreted. The discoveries are not wasted but incorporated into a new description. Science has a sociological dimension, of course; and its impact, its speed of progress, its public face, do depend on the time in which it is carried out.
Physics in the nineteenth century by Robert Purrington