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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: August 2011
  • First published in: 1893

CHAPTER I - ELECTRIC DISPLACEMENT AND FARADAY TUBES OF FORCE

Summary

1.] The influence which the notation and ideas of the fluid theory of electricity have ever since their introduction exerted over the science of Electricity and Magnetism, is a striking illustration of the benefits conferred upon this science by a concrete representation or ‘construibar vorstellung’ of the symbols, which in the Mathematical Theory of Electricity define the state of the electric field. Indeed the services which the old fluid theory has rendered to Electricity by providing a language in which the facts of the science can be clearly and briefly expressed can hardly be over-rated. A descriptive theory of this kind does more than serve as a vehicle for the clear expression of well-known results, it often renders important services by suggesting the possibility of the existence of new phenomena.

The descriptive hypothesis, that of displacement in a dielectric, used by Maxwell to illustrate his mathematical theory, seems to have been found by many readers neither so simple nor so easy of comprehension as the old fluid theory; indeed this seems to have been one of the chief reasons why his views did not sooner meet with the general acceptance they have since received. As many students find the conception of ‘displacement’ difficult, I venture to give an alternative method of regarding the processes occurring in the electric field, which I have often found useful and which is, from a mathematical point of view, equivalent to Maxwell's Theory.

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