25055Re: Unread heros of Math & Physics
- May 10 4:49 PM--- In email@example.com,
"WarrenS" <warren.wds@...> wrote:
> somewhat sadly, I've read very little by either Newton orI have studied Motte's translation of the Principia and was
> Maxwell. Recommend anything?
struck by this:
Hitherto we have explain'd the phenomena of the heavens and
of our sea, by the power of Gravity, but have not yet
assign'd the cause of this power. This is certain, that it
must proceed from a cause that penetrates to the very
centers of the Sun and Planets, without suffering the least
diminution of its force; that operates, not according to the
quantity of surfaces of the particles upon which it acts,
(as mechanical causes use to do,) but according to the
quantity of the solid matter which they contain, and
propagates its virtue on all sides, to immense distances,
decreasing always in the duplicate proportion of the
But hitherto I have not been able to discover the cause of
those properties of gravity from phenomena, and I frame no
hypotheses. For whatever is not deduc'd from the phenomena,
is to be called an hypothesis; and hypotheses, whether
metaphysical or physical, whether of occult qualities or
mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy.
Clerk Maxwell's paper:
A dynamical theory of the electromagnetic field,
Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. 155 (1865) 459-512,
is frankly amazing.
> Or perhaps it is best to avoid reading them directly sinceMany people think that and are the poorer for it. Sometimes,
> everything has been redone way clearer by others?
it takes my breath away that the likes of Newton, Maxwell,
Einstein, Euler and Gauss could be so prescient.
I do not include any of the multitude of parents of quantum
theory (Bohr, Schroedinger, Heisenberg, Dirac, Tomonaga,
Schwinger, Feynman, Dyson) in my list of top 3 physicists.
Nor would any of them dare to do so. Quantum mechanics and
quantum field theory were corporate creations.
To Newton, Maxwell and Einstein belongs the almost sole
glory of capturing the essentials of mechanics,
electromagnetism and relativity, respectively, in a handful
of ideas and equations of great power and persuasiveness.
On the other hand, quantum theory grew, fitfully and
confusedly, out of the puzzlings of many persons.
Of these, Dirac came the closest to emulating Newton,
Maxwell and Einstein. Though even Dirac might have
shuddered at that comparison.
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