ERIC Number: EJ930016
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Jul
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 47
Representing the Electromagnetic Field: How Maxwell's Mathematics Empowered Faraday's Field Theory
Tweney, Ryan D.
Science & Education, v20 n7-8 p687-700 Jul 2011
James Clerk Maxwell "translated" Michael Faraday's experimentally-based field theory into the mathematical representation now known as "Maxwell's Equations." Working with a variety of mathematical representations and physical models Maxwell extended the reach of Faraday's theory and brought it into consistency with other results in the physics of electricity and magnetism. Examination of Maxwell's procedures opens many issues about the role of mathematical representation in physics and the learning background required for its success. Specifically, Maxwell's training in "Cambridge University" mathematical physics emphasized the use of analogous equations across fields of physics and the repeated solving of extremely difficult problems in physics. Such training develops an array of overlearned mathematical representations supported by highly sophisticated cognitive mechanisms for the retrieval of relevant information from long term memory. For Maxwell, mathematics constituted a new form of representation in physics, enhancing the formal derivational and calculational role of mathematics and opening a cognitive means for the conduct of "experiments in the mind" and for sophisticated representations of theory.
Descriptors: Foreign Countries, Physics, Long Term Memory, Equations (Mathematics), Theories, Thinking Skills, Experiments, Recall (Psychology), Problem Solving, Scientific Concepts, Scientists, Scientific Research, Science History
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom