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 On the relativistic unification of electricity and magnetism


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The unification of electricity and magnetism achieved by special relativity has remained for decades a model of unification in theoretical physics. We discuss the relationship between electric and magnetic fields from a classical point of view, and then examine how the four main relevant authors Lorentz, Poincar\e, Einstein, Minkowski dealt with the problem of establishing the transformation laws of the fields in different inertial systems. We argue that Poincar\es derivation of the transformation laws for the potentials and the fields was definitely less arbitrary than those of the other cited authors, contrast this with the fact that here, as in other instances, Poincar\es contribution to relativity was belittled by authoritative German physicists in the first two decades. In the course of the historical analysis a number of questions which are of contemporary foundational interest concerning relativistic electromagnetism are examined, with special emphasis on the role of potentials in presentations of electromagnetism, and a number of errors in the historical and foundational literature are corrected.



Author: Marco Mamone Capria; Maria-Grazia Manini

Source: https://archive.org/







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