By Edmund T. Whittaker
Detailed, debatable, and often mentioned, this survey deals hugely exact bills in regards to the improvement of principles and theories in regards to the nature of electrical energy and house (aether). simply obtainable to basic readers in addition to highschool scholars, lecturers, and undergraduates, it contains a lot info unavailable elsewhere.
This single-volume version includes either The Classical Theories and the fashionable Theories, that have been initially released individually. the 1st quantity covers the theories of classical physics from the age of the Greek philosophers to the past due nineteenth century. the second one quantity chronicles discoveries that resulted in the advances of contemporary physics, targeting precise relativity, quantum theories, common relativity, matrix mechanics, and wave mechanics. famous historian of technology I. Bernard Cohen, who reviewed those books for Scientific American, saw, "I recognize of no different historical past of electrical energy that's as sound as Whittaker's. All those that have stumbled on stimulation from his works will learn this informative and exact historical past with curiosity and profit."
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Extra info for A history of the theories of aether and electricity Vol 2
The differences, then, between the Aristotelian/Ptolemaic view of the cosmos and the modern view reside not only in the utterly dissimilar physical structures inherent in these views but also in the nature of their derivation and, correspondingly, in their relation to reality. The ancient view of the cosmos was simply wrong because it was based on ideas that, however reasonable, were never tested by experiment and turned out to be incorrect. Today’s cosmos, established by more sophisticated applications of scientiﬁc analysis, is by contrast a close approximation of reality.
What makes us feel certain about the solution? It is not only because the words all ﬁt together precisely but also because many of them, in retrospect, reveal the unity of the design. No resort to any gibberish words has been made. Yet there are no speciﬁc rules by which one can tell that the solution is correct; and, until the answer is published the next week, one is presumably not certain. Nevertheless, we know instinctively when we have correctly solved the puzzle, and so we proceed to the next one, conﬁdent that the correct solution cannot be signiﬁcantly different.
In a different context, other polls have tried to assess the scientiﬁc literacy of the American public. One such poll sponsored by the National Science Foundation arrived at the estimate that only about 8 percent of Americans had even minimal scientiﬁc literacy2—our second criterion for a rationalist. These numbers therefore accord with my guess that rationalists constitute a maximum of about 10 percent of our society. The exact number, in any event, is not the most important consideration. What is signiﬁcant is the conclusion that rationalists make up only a small minority of the citizenry.