The Significance of Maxwell's Equations
Year: 2012 Pages: 9
Keywords: aether, Maxwell's Equations, centrifugal force
James Clerk-Maxwell is credited with having brought electricity, magnetism, and optical phenomena, together into one unified theory. The details of what exactly he did were however seriously distorted in twentieth century physics textbooks. Maxwell is most famous in connection with a set of equations which bear his name, but these equations have been totally removed from the physical context within which Maxwell was working, and outside of that physical context the full meaning of these equations is lost. Maxwell was working within the context of a sea of tiny aethereal vortices pressing against each other with centrifugal force. The centrifugal force bit was crucial for explaining magnetic repulsion, yet both centrifugal force and aether are stringently denied by modern physicists who nevertheless continue to hail Maxwell for the equations that he derived by using these very concepts which they deny. This irony seems to be explained at least in part because they think that the equations can be re-derived using Einstein's special theory of relativity. Such an erroneous belief stems from the fact that one of the most important of Maxwell's equations has been wrongly credited to Lorentz and referred to as the Lorentz force law and treated as ?supplementary' to Maxwell's equations. Einstein, being ignorant of Maxwell's original equations and the fact that they contained the Lorentz force law, hence wrongly believed that the equations contained no convective term, and so he made the erroneous conclusion that Maxwell's equations mean that the speed of light must be frame independent in contradiction of classical principles of vector addition of velocities. This erroneous conclusion led Einstein to his special theory of relativity in 1905, and it subsequently led to the erroneous belief amongst both relativists and many anti-relativists, that Einstein's special theory of relativity follows naturally from Maxwell's theory, when in fact Maxwell and Einstein were not even remotely working along the same lines.