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Article
May 31, 1952

A History of the Theories of Aether and Electricity: The Classical Theories

Author Affiliations
 

By Sir Edmund Whittaker, F.R.S. Cloth. $12. Pp. 434. Philosophical Library, Inc., 15 E. 40th St., New York 16; Thos. Nelson & Sons, Ltd., Parkside Works, Dalkeith Road, Edinburgh 9; 3 Henrietta St., London, W.C.2, 1951.

JAMA. 1952;149(5):523. doi:10.1001/jama.1952.02930220113036

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Abstract

This is the first volume of a work discussing the changing concepts of a luminiferous ether and the efforts of physicists to develop mathematical descriptions of the electrical, magnetic, and gravitational tensions that pervade so-called empty space. As the author says, it seems absurd to apply the word "vacuum" to anything so rich and paradoxical in its properties as this medium through which material particles act on each other. If it were not for the peculiar properties of this ether, there would be no hope, for instance, of preventing the occasionally troublesome interference of television with diathermy. The first volume summarizes the pre-Einsteinian developments with the aid of partial differential equations and vector analysis. This will discourage the majority of medical readers, but it arouses curiosity, tinged with misgivings, as to the second volume, which will probably require non-Euclidean geometry and tensor calculus. It must, however, be commended as scholarly,

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