- 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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> - --- In primenumbers@yahoogroups.com,

Jack Brennen <jfb@...> wrote:

> David, wonder if you would agree that no physicist has a

Agreed. My father was an electrical engineer and thought

> wider gap between his contribution (huge) and his fame

> (minor) as Oliver Heaviside...

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 - --- In primenumbers@yahoogroups.com, "djbroadhurst" <d.broadhurst@...> wrote:
>

Not to minimize the work of such a genius that was Einstein what about Lorentz and Poincaré's contributions to special relativity?

>

> 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.

>

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 - --- In primenumbers@yahoogroups.com,

"j_chrtn" <j_chrtn@...> wrote:

> And as a mathematician, Poincaré probably ranks in the top

Agreed. But Einstein's claim in general relativity

> of the list close to Euler and Gauss.

far outweighs Poincaré's in special relativity.

David Hilbert is another example of "proxime accessit".

> Among my favorite mathematicians is also Galois:

Also agreed. It shames me that I have not yet mastered

> I can't hardly imagine the work he would have achieved

> if he did not die (stupidly) at only 20.

what he did in those brief years. Like Eric Temple Bell

I regret his early demise.

David