Spring 2009

The Maxwellian Synthesis: Dynamics of Charges and Fields, Optics

Listed in: Physics and Astronomy, as PHYS-24


David S. Hall (Section 01)


In the mid-nineteenth century, completing nearly a century of work by others, Maxwell developed an elegant set of equations describing the dynamical behavior of electromagnetic fields. A remarkable consequence of Maxwell’s equations is that the wave theory of light is subsumed under electrodynamics. Moreover, we know from subsequent developments that the electromagnetic interaction largely determines the structure and properties of ordinary matter. The course will begin with Coulomb’s Law but will quickly introduce the concept of the electric field. Moving charges and their connection with the magnetic field will be explored. Currents and electrical circuits will be studied. Faraday’s introduction of the dynamics of the magnetic field and Maxwell’s generalization of it will be discussed. Laboratory exercises will concentrate on circuits, electronic measuring instruments, and optics. Four hours of lecture and discussion and one three-hour laboratory per week. Requisite: Mathematics 12 and Physics 16 or 23. Spring semester. Professor Hall.