(1) The most obvious mechanical phenomenon in electrical and magnetical experiments is the mutual action by which bodies in certain states set each other in motion while still at a sensible distance from each other. The first step, therefore, in reducing these phenomena into scientific form, is to ascertain the magnitude and direction of the force acting between the bodies, and when it is found that this force depends in a certain way upon the relative position of the bodies and on their electric or magnetic condition, it seems at first sight natural to explain the facts by assuming the existence of something either at rest or in motion in each body, constituting its electric or magnetic state, and capable of acting at a distance according to mathematical laws.
In this way mathematical theories of statical electricity, of magnetism, of the mechanical action between conductors carrying currents, and of the induction of currents have been formed. In these theories the force acting between the two bodies is treated with reference only to the condition of the bodies and their relative position, and without any express consideration of the surrounding medium.
These theories assume, more or less explicitly, the existence of substances the particles of which have the property of acting on one another at a distance by attraction or repulsion. The most complete development of a theory of this kind is that of M.W. Weber, who has made the same theory include electrostatic and electromagnetic phenomena.
In doing so, however, he has found it necessary to assume that the force between two particles depends on their relative velocity, as well as on their distance.
This theory, as developed by MM. W. Weber and C. Neumann, is exceedingly ingenious, and wonderfully comprehensive in its application to the phenomena of statical electricity, electromagnetic attractions, induction of current and diamagnetic phenomena; and it comes to us with the more authority, as it has served to guide the speculations of one who has made so great an advance in the practical part of electric science, both by introducing a consistent system of units in electrical measurement, and by actually determining electrical quantities with an accuracy hitherto unknown.
(2) The mechanical difficulties, however, which are involved in the assumption of particles acting at a distance with forces which depend on their velocities are such as to prevent me from considering this theory as an ultimate one though it may have been, and may yet be useful in leading to the coordination of phenomena.
I have therefore preferred to seek an explanation of the fact in another direction, by supposing them to be produced by actions which go on in the surrounding medium as well as in the excited bodies, and endeavouring to explain the action between distant bodies without assuming the existence of forces capable of acting directly at sensible distances.
(3) The theory I propose may therefore be called a theory of the Electromagnetic Field, because it has to do with the space in the neighbourhood of the electric or magnetic bodies, and it may be called a Dynamical Theory, because it assumes that in that space there is matter in motion, by which the observed electromagnetic phenomena are produced.
(4) The electromagnetic field is that part of space which contains and surrounds bodies in electric or magnetic conditions.
It may be filled with any kind of matter, or we may endeavour to render it empty of all gross matter, as in the case of Geissler’s tubes and other so called vacua.
There is always, however, enough of matter left to receive and transmit the undulations of light and heat, and it is because the transmission of these radiations is not greatly altered when transparent bodies of measurable density are substituted for the so-called vacuum, that we are obliged to admit that the undulations are those of an ethereal substance...
Maxwell's Theory and Equations
By Mr. Leslie O. Green - December 15, 2001
This text is the classic work of James Clerk Maxwell. It is an essay, printed by the Royal Society of London in 1864 which gives a full insight into Maxwell's theory of electromagnetic waves.Maxwell's equations are of course the entire basis of modern electromagnetic theory. It is much easier to view these ideas here, in this brief form, than to wade through the 1873 and later editions of Maxwell's mammoth "Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism".The primary benefit of this small volume is the easy access to this paper. One would otherwise have to go for a collection of Maxwell's papers, which would be somewhat more expensive. The preface to the volume is a useful addition to the work. However, the Introduction by Thomas F. Torrance is a bit over the top. It also introduces a bit of a Theological `spin' to the material, which is not surprising when you see how many Theological/Religious texts this fellow is involved with.Take or leave this 27 page introduction as you... read more
FACT: Maxwell Plus Einstein!
By A Reader - June 13, 2008
Not only does it provide Maxwell's original work, it also includes the 1954 translation of Albert Einsteins 1931 Appreciation to Maxwell, written to celebrate 100 years since the birth of Maxwell in 1831--this one of at least three major translations of Einstien's In Appreciation of Maxwell Essay.
Barely acceptable version of Maxwell's work
By pabloi - January 11, 2012
I just finished reading this on my Kindle keyboard, and was a dissapointed with the product.
Contrary to what other reviews say, there are no extras: no Einstein's comment or any others, and no preface either. This didn't bother me, since it wasn't why I bought it in the first place, but be warned.
The edition did come edited for Kindle, with a dynamic Table of contents and barely any typos. However, equations are unreadable in most cases (a black box appears or something just as useless) and that is a deal breaker: no sense in reading a milestone work in Physics if the mathematical formulation is not present.