2The Rhetorical Strategy of Polarization

2.1Polarization in Non-Communication Fields

The term polarization was first used in the fields of physics and chemistry in the early nineteenth century. One of the first known uses of the word as a scientific concept occurred in 1811, when the French physicist Étienne-Louis Malus used the word polarizer to describe a phenomenon he discovered in electromagnetic waves which split into two distinct streams.99 And in modern physics, polarization refers to the positive and negative orientation of electromagnetic waves in space. This parallels how magnets function: by creating a situation in which an object’s electrons become focused on one side, a positive-negative polarity arises, creating a magnetic effect. ...

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