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Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field

Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field

How Two Men Revolutionized Physics

Book - 2014
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From modern-day conveniences such as wireless communication to the most groundbreaking scientific theories, much of what we take for granted today depends on our understanding of the electromagnetic field--the discovery of which rests on the shoulders of two of history's most brilliant scientists, Michael Faraday (1791-1867) and James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879). Faraday and Maxwell's combined work to unravel the mysteries of this new, more accurate conception of reality resulted in the creation of field theory, which turned the prevailing Newtonian perception of how the universe works on its head. Faraday overcame class prejudice and a lack of training to become renowned for his acute powers of experimental observation, technological skills, and prodigious scientific imagination. Maxwell was a well-educated genius physicist; he made a number of groundbreaking discoveries in various disciplines. Their collaborative work unified electricity, magnetism, and light under the concept of field theory, on which much of twentieth-century physics, and modern technology, depend. Here, two veteran science writers explore the lives and discoveries of Faraday and Maxwell to paint riveting portraits of two men who altered the course of history.--From publisher description.
Publisher: Amherst, New York : Prometheus Books, [2014]
ISBN: 9781616149420
Call Number: 537 F694f 2014
Characteristics: 320 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Mahon, Basil - Author


From Library Staff

The story of two very different men whose complementary talents revolutionized science. Faraday was the son of a blacksmith who was an ingenious experimenter but who had no formal education and little math skill. Maxwell was a professor and mathematician who was able turn Faraday’s experiments in... Read More »

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Apr 09, 2021

A very enjoyable and enlightening book. The story is how the two principal characters advanced and aided the development of the understanding of the physics of the universe. The story goes from the original concept of "aether" to today's Standard Model of particle physics. The story may be changing as I write this. Tests at the Fermilab reported on April 7, 2021 produced results for the Muon g − 2 particle that are slightly larger than what is predicted by the Standard Model. The pursuit of knowledge continues.

Sep 30, 2016

A first-rate science book written at the educated adult level. The authors explain what was known about electricity and magnetism and how experimentation plus formalization of the results mathematically led to all the electronic marvels we take for granted today and formed a platform for Einstein to create his theories upon. Told in clear language and not afraid to show a few of the famous equations—and even make them understandable to the layperson with analogies and pictures—without “dumbing down” anything.

I enthusiastically recommend it to anybody wanting to learn how real science works, and at the same time as an entertaining drama with a group of intellectual giants vying to find out the answers to some of nature’s mysteries first.

Oct 17, 2015

Along with historian, Jill Jonnes' remarkable and extraordinary book, Empires of Light, this remarkable achievement by Nancy Forbes and Basil Mahon epitomizes the top rung of scientific-historical-biographical writing --- truly outstanding!
I believe it is because these three authors capture the intellectual nuances so neglected by others who have written of these genius types and persevering pioneers of the deepest thought! Plus they tell their stories with unfailing emotional sensitivity.
Fantastic take on Faraday, Maxwell and stunningly of all, The Big E [electromagnetism]!

ChristchurchLib Jun 16, 2014

"In 1813, blacksmith's son Michael Faraday abandoned a career as a bookbinder to study the little-understood phenomenon of electricity. Although his tireless efforts led to the development of the first electric motor and generator, as well as the idea of the electromagnetic field (in which electricity and magnetism travel as waves), few took him seriously until James Clerk Maxwell, a Scottish mathematician and physicist, formulated a set of equations to describe Faraday's theories. In this thought-provoking dual biography, science writers Nancy Forbes and Basil Mahon explore the lives of two influential men of science as well as their enduring legacy." Nature and Science June 2014 newsletter


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