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Synopsis

This book provides a chronological introduction to the electromagnetic theory of light, using selected extracts from classic texts such as Gilbert’s De Magnete, Franklin’s Experiments and Observations on Electricity, and Huygens’ Treatise on Light.  Particular attention is given to the works of Faraday, Maxwell and Heaviside, scientists who unified the formerly separate disciplines of electricity, magnetism and light.  Their electromagnetic theory—developed during the 19th century—would lead to the invention of modern radar, electrical power grids, and telecommunication networks.

Each chapter of this book begins with a short introduction followed by a reading selection.  Carefully crafted study questions draw out key points in the text and focus the reader’s attention on the author’s methods, analysis and conclusions.  Numerical and laboratory exercises at the end of each chapter test the reader’s ability to understand and apply key concepts from the text.

Electricity, Magnetism and Light is the third of four volumes in A Student’s Guide through the Great Physics Texts.  This book grew out of a four-semester undergraduate physics curriculum designed to encourage a critical and circumspect approach to natural science while at the same time preparing students for advanced coursework in physics.

This book is particularly suitable as a college-level textbook for students of the natural sciences, history or philosophy.  It can also serve as a textbook for advanced high-school or home-schooled students, or as a thematically-organized source-book for scholars and motivated lay-readers.  In studying the classic scientific texts included herein, the reader will be drawn toward a lifetime of contemplation.

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