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Re: Unread heros of Math & Physics

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  • djbroadhurst
    ... I have studied Motte s translation of the Principia and was struck by this: http://www.isaac-newton.org/scholium.htm ... Hitherto we have explain d the
    Message 1 of 10 , May 10, 2013
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      --- In primenumbers@yahoogroups.com,
      "WarrenS" <warren.wds@...> wrote:

      > somewhat sadly, I've read very little by either Newton or
      > Maxwell. Recommend anything?

      I have studied Motte's translation of the Principia and was
      struck by this:

      http://www.isaac-newton.org/scholium.htm
      ...
      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
      distances.
      ...
      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 since
      > everything has been redone way clearer by others?

      Many people think that and are the poorer for it. Sometimes,
      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.

      David
    • Jack Brennen
      David, wonder if you would agree that no physicist has a wider gap between his contribution (huge) and his fame (minor) as Oliver Heaviside... Heaviside should
      Message 2 of 10 , May 10, 2013
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        David, wonder if you would agree that no physicist has a
        wider gap between his contribution (huge) and his fame
        (minor) as Oliver Heaviside...

        Heaviside should be right up there with the great
        physicists of all time.



        On 5/10/2013 4:49 PM, djbroadhurst wrote:
        >
        >
        > --- In primenumbers@yahoogroups.com,
        > "WarrenS" <warren.wds@...> wrote:
        >
        >> somewhat sadly, I've read very little by either Newton or
        >> Maxwell. Recommend anything?
        >
        > I have studied Motte's translation of the Principia and was
        > struck by this:
        >
        > http://www.isaac-newton.org/scholium.htm
        > ...
        > 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
        > distances.
        > ...
        > 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 since
        >> everything has been redone way clearer by others?
        >
        > Many people think that and are the poorer for it. Sometimes,
        > 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.
        >
        > David
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------
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        > The Prime Pages : http://primes.utm.edu/
        >
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        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
      • djbroadhurst
        ... Agreed. My father was an electrical engineer and thought that the British have a class snobbery against practical thinkers. In France, on the other hand,
        Message 3 of 10 , May 11, 2013
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          --- In primenumbers@yahoogroups.com,
          Jack Brennen <jfb@...> wrote:

          > David, wonder if you would agree that no physicist has a
          > wider gap between his contribution (huge) and his fame
          > (minor) as Oliver Heaviside...

          Agreed. My father was an electrical engineer and thought
          that the British have a class snobbery against practical
          thinkers. In France, on the other hand, the Grandes Ecoles
          made sure that good maths and physics was done by people
          trained and recognized as ingenieurs.

          David
        • j_chrtn
          ... Not to minimize the work of such a genius that was Einstein what about Lorentz and Poincaré s contributions to special relativity? And as a mathematician,
          Message 4 of 10 , May 11, 2013
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            --- In primenumbers@yahoogroups.com, "djbroadhurst" <d.broadhurst@...> wrote:
            >
            >
            > 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.
            >

            Not to minimize the work of such a genius that was Einstein what about Lorentz and Poincaré's contributions to special relativity?
            And as a mathematician, Poincaré probably ranks in the top of the list close to Euler and Gauss.

            Among my favorite mathematicians is also Galois: I can't hardly imagine the work he would have achieved if he did not die (stupidly) at only 20.

            JL
          • djbroadhurst
            ... Agreed. But Einstein s claim in general relativity far outweighs Poincaré s in special relativity. David Hilbert is another example of proxime accessit .
            Message 5 of 10 , May 11, 2013
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              --- In primenumbers@yahoogroups.com,
              "j_chrtn" <j_chrtn@...> wrote:

              > And as a mathematician, Poincaré probably ranks in the top
              > of the list close to Euler and Gauss.

              Agreed. But Einstein's claim in general relativity
              far outweighs Poincaré's in special relativity.

              David Hilbert is another example of "proxime accessit".

              > Among my favorite mathematicians is also Galois:
              > I can't hardly imagine the work he would have achieved
              > if he did not die (stupidly) at only 20.

              Also agreed. It shames me that I have not yet mastered
              what he did in those brief years. Like Eric Temple Bell
              I regret his early demise.

              David
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