Chapter 1

Prologue

Most physical phenomena are fundamentally electromagnetic. This makes electromagnetism a basic theory in many branches of physics (solid state physics, electronics, atomic and molecular physics, relativity, atmospheric physics, etc.) also in some other sciences and most technologies.

Although physics is an experimental science, it uses mathematical language to formulate its theories and its laws and analyze their consequences. Electromagnetism is a typical theory that is impossible to formulate without extensive use of vector analysis, differential equations, complex analysis, etc. The use of mathematics can even lead to the prediction of new physical laws and new phenomena (the discovery of the electromagnetic waves by Maxwell is a typical example). However, only experiments can decide whether a particular solution or prediction and even the whole theory is acceptable. Until now, no experiment has contradicted electromagnetic theory, both on the macroscopic scale and the microscopic scale (nuclear, atomic or molecular).

Although permanent magnets and electrification by rubbing were known in antiquity, scientific observations of magnetism began around 1270 with the French army engineer Pierre de Marincourt. The observation of electric effects began much later with the French botanist C. Dufay around 1734. Contrary to the gravitational interaction between masses, the large majority of objects around us are globally neutral and, if they become charged, they discharge ...

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