Electrodynamics from Ampere to Einstein by Olivier Darrigol

By Olivier Darrigol

This richly documented and abundantly illusrated paintings sheds new mild at the origins of Einstein's relativity.

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This rigidIty was increased by the fact that Ampere, lacking manual skills, always had the apparatus made for him. In general he knew the results of his experiments in advance. Material constraints could. however, lead to instructive surpnses, as we saw for the setup with parallel helices. Ampere's experiments did not yield numbers. In one class of experiments. he showed the qualitative similanty of spirals or helices to magnets. In another class. he examined the more fundamental action between rectilinear currents.

In conformity with this view, small steel needles placed along a circle centered on the wire became magnetized. 43 Cf. Williams 1965: Ch I. Rumford 1870-1875, Vol. 4: 755. On the Royal Institution. cf. Berman 1978. On Davy. cf. Williams 1965: Ch. I; Knight 1996. 42 Cf. Williams 1965: 120-3, 107-8, 109-15, 115-20. 4' Davy 182 I (read 16 November 1820) 40 41 Faraday's rotations 00 N FIG. 8. Wollaston's diagram for the attraction of two parallel currents (left) and the repulsion of anti parallel ones (right).

35 They even denied the originality of Ampere's discovery of the interaction between two currents. If, their argument went, a current acted on a magnet and a magnet acted on a current, then a current obviously had to act on an other current. Defending Ampere, Arago objected that two iron keys did not attract each other, although each of them interacted with a magnet. 36 Ampere's most dangerous critic was the politically and intellectually conservative Jean-Baptiste Biot. More Laplacian than Laplace himself, Biot applied standard French techniques to the determination of the force between a current element and a magnetic pole (that is, the extremity of a long, uniformly magnetized needle).

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