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Maxwell’s Equations: The Final Classical Theory Catherine Firth & Alexa Rakoski

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James Clerk Maxwell Born June 13 th 1831 in Edinburgh, Scotland Born James Clerk but took the name of Maxwell when he inherited an estate from the Maxwell family Published first scientific paper at the age of 14: method to draw mathematical curves using twine, and the properties of multifocal curves

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Maxwell’s Later Years Attended university first at the University of Edinburgh, and later at Cambridge University, where he graduated with a degree in mathematics In 1856 at the age of 25, he became Chair of Natural Philosophy at Marischal College, Aberdeen In 1860 moved to King’s College London, where he worked until 1865 It was during this time that ‘A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field’ was published In 1871 he became the director of the newly-formed Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge Died November 5 th 1879 at the age of 48

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Before Maxwell

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Maxwell’s Equations

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Flux Measure of “stuff” passing through an area Water passing through a cross-section of pipe Electric/magnetic flux: number of field lines passing through a surface area Flux integral: sum of infinitely many tiny surfaces

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Gauss’ Law for Electricity

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Gauss’ Law for Magnetism

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Faraday’s Law A change in magnetic flux through a loop results in a voltage through the loop. Voltage and electric field are related by Therefore, a magnetic field that varies over time produces an electric field. Differential form Integral form

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Ampere’s Law

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The Displacement Current

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Ampere’s Law Revisited

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Role of the Aether Maxwell’s model of the aether was key to his development of the displacement current. Dipoles in the aether could be polarized, making it possible for an electric field to be transmitted across space.

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Consequences of Maxwell’s Theory Maxwell’s first two equations are properties of the electric and magnetic fields. The last two equations, Faraday’s Law and Ampere’s Law show that electric and magnetic fields generate each other: A varying magnetic field generates an electric field, and a varying electric field generates a magnetic field. What is the solution to Maxwell’s equations?

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Electromagnetic Waves The electric and magnetic fields must propagate at right angles to each other, and the direction of propagation must be at a right angle to both fields. The speed of the waves is This speed happens to agree with the speed of light measured experimentally!

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Electromagnetic Waves

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The solution to the equations of electromagnetism is a wave propagating at the speed measured for light. Supported the wave theory of light, and suggested that light was specifically an electromagnetic wave.

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Newton v. Maxwell Can electromagnetism be understood using Newtonian mechanics? Mechanical models of the aether Newton’s laws depend on acceleration so no reference frame is favored over any other. Maxwell’s equations depend on velocity, so perhaps one “absolute” frame is favored. Can the absolute reference frame, or frame of the aether, be detected?

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Michelson-Morley Experiment Greatest negative experiment in the history of physics?

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Michelson-Morley Experiment Aether is the rest frame with respect to which c=3x10 -8 m/s Our apparatus is moving through this frame with a speed of v Examine the difference between the speed of light travelling upstream and travelling downstream, and their difference would be twice the speed of the aether However measured by sending light down to a mirror and back, which would offset the effects

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Michelson-Morley Experiment “Suppose we have a river of width w (say, 100 feet), and two swimmers who both swim at the same speed v feet per second (say, 5 feet per second). The river is flowing at a steady rate, say 3 feet per second. The swimmers race in the following way: they both start at the same point on one bank. One swims directly across the river to the closest point on the opposite bank, then turns around and swims back. The other stays on one side of the river, swimming upstream a distance (measured along the bank) exactly equal to the width of the river, then swims back to the start. Who wins?”

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Michelson-Morley Experiment Swimmer 1: going upstream travels at 2 ft/s, takes 50 seconds: Downstream: speed of 8 ft/s, 12.5 s Total: 62.5 s Swimmer 2: crossing rate of 4 ft/s, takes 25 s each way Total: 50 s

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Michelson-Morley Experiment

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Upstream time: Michelson-Morley Experiment Downstream time: or

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Michelson-Morley Experiment Cross stream time:

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Michelson-Morley Experiment Two equations differ by (2l/c)*(v 2 /2c 2 ), a difference an observer would not be able to detect Get around this using inference properties of lightwaves Difference in phases would produce an interference fringe pattern Rotating the apparatus, the path difference decreases until it is 0 when both are inclined at 45 degrees to v Constructive interference observed As it is rotated through 90 degrees, the change in time difference is twice the original

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Michelson-Morley Experiment Parallel wave should fall behind the perpendicular beam For a setup with l ≅ 11m, expect 0.4 fringe shifts But no fringe shift was detected!

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Lorentz-FitzGerald Contraction Hypothesis George FitzGerald, Trinity College Dublin 1892: If the length of the parallel arm of the Michelson- Morley apparatus is shortened, the speed of the earth relative to the aether would not be detected. In general, an object moving parallel to v is contracted in the direction of motion.

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Lorentz-FitzGerald Contraction Hypothesis Hendrik Lorentz, University of Leiden 1902 Nobel Prize for electromagnetic radiation Maxwell’s equations in a moving frame Derived a transformation between the moving frame and the frame at rest Showed that the electric force is less in the moving frame than in the rest frame All interactions are fundamentally electromagnetic, so molecules might transform in the same way Result: objects contract in the direction of motion

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Discarding the Aether Henri Poincare, French mathematician 1899: “…optical phenomena depend only on the relative motions of the material bodies, luminous sources, and optical apparatus concerned.” 1904: Postulated “principle of relativity” Laws of physics must be the same for all inertial reference frames No velocity can be greater than the speed of light Same as Einstein’s postulates in 1905

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Discarding the Aether After special relativity was published, most scientists accepted that there was no aether. 1916: Lorentz’ Theory of Electrons Einstein’s theory was a work of genius Aether still existed and was “endowed with a certain degree of substantiality, however different it may be from all ordinary matter.”

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