Graeme Roberts's Reviews > Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field: How Two Men Revolutionized Physics

Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field by Nancy  Forbes
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it was amazing
Recommended for: Charlene

What a superb book! I have never read an account of the history of science that gave me such deep pleasure. The writing is uniformly elegant and precise, and so lucid that even non-scientists can understand concepts and hypotheses that stumped all but a few physicists at the time. Many physics books, even those intended to make the science understandable to the layperson fail in that regard. You certainly don't need to love physics to enjoy it, but I think that you must be attuned to the great beauty of science.

Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell were very different in background and education, but they were both gentlemen of exemplary character. Maxwell, now considered the greatest scientific genius of the 19th century was both theoretician and experimentalist, able with hard work and consistent use of his unconscious mind to describe experimental results in mathematical terms. He transcended the concrete, mechanical assumptions of Newtonian physics, allowing his successors to further reveal the electromagnetic field. When asked if he had stood on the shoulders of Newton, Albert Einstein replied: "That is not quite right; I stood on Maxwell's shoulders." The book continues, "Maxwell himself would probably have said that it began in 1921 when Michael Faraday imagined a circular force around a current-carrying wire. Together, they gave future generations a model for the interplay of experiment and theory, where each illuminates a path for the other. Neither man was confined to the role commonly assigned to him by casual historians. Faraday, the renowned experimenter, put forward some of the most imaginative and daring theoretical ideas; and Maxwell, the cerebral theoretician, carried out some of the most demanding experiments."

All of the advances that have made modern life better for all human beings have depended in some way on our understanding and application of the electromagnetic field. It would have come eventually, but how apt that such kind, humble, and decent men delivered it.
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Reading Progress

February 12, 2017 – Shelved
February 12, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
April 1, 2017 – Started Reading
April 27, 2017 –
page 53
May 14, 2017 –
page 187
May 16, 2017 – Finished Reading

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