Chapter

Transforming the Field

in Masters of Theory

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2003 | ISBN: 9780226873749
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226873763 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226873763.003.0008
Transforming the Field

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There are several reasons why Searle's brief exchange with Einstein is an appropriate episode with which to open a discussion of the early Cambridge reception of relativity. Cambridge physicists were not in a position directly to compare the respective merits of Larmorian and Einsteinian electrodynamics because such a comparison would require them, among other things, to have a roughly comparable mastery of both approaches. The rapid mastery of a physical theory was typically generated through a complex pedagogical economy so that Cambridge mathematical physicists were unlikely to gain much understanding of Einstein's work even by reading what he had composed as an expository paper on the principle of relativity and its consequences. This chapter is concerned with a collaborative venture between Ebenezer Cunningham and Harry Bateman intended to extend what they understood as the “principle of relativity” to make it applicable to electrical systems in states of non-uniform motion. Einstein's theory of relativity is widely regarded today as one of the greatest intellectual products of the twentieth century.

Keywords: Einstein; Cambridge; electrical systems; transforming; electrodynamics

Chapter.  17626 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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