You are on page 1of 18

Maxwells field as an operational concept ( G.

Mpantes)

Maxwells field as an

operational concept (by G.Mpantes)

George Mpantes: mathematics teacher


www.mpantes.gr

operationalism , mathematical field, Faradays field, Maxwells field

Introduction

Electricity is a very
deep

phenomenon

natural

philosophy

and
is

evenly divided in dealing


it.

Electric

described

with

theory

number

of

electric forces from the Coulombs force to


forces

of

Ampere,

Clausius , Lorentz

Grassman,

the

Biot-Savart,

Laplace,

Weber,

Gauss,

having two paths for the study of electricity, which

appear to represent deeper differences that reach to the roots of human


ability for description and understanding of nature.
In one it connects electricity with

bodies, and studies mutual

interactions of charged bodies from distance without intermediate, and the


other the electric interaction is by contact through a medium. The contact
should restore the ether, after replaced by the "field". We call them
particle and field electricity respectively.
Along the way, the view of action by contact, prevailed, but the
medium of the contact was abolished, ( the ether) , we talked about waves
without medium of propagation, it led to the notion of immaterial field

Maxwells field as an operational concept ( G. Mpantes)

unrelated to bodies, a super reality that lies behind everything,


Aristotelian and conceivable without any operationalist verification.
Physics endeavored

much with the atomism on electricity, an

undeniable reality, because the electric field theory that had dominated ,
had refused it from the beginning! The electric charge

was finally

accepted as a deformation of the ether, the deformation occurs on a


particular material particle, and later when the ether proved nonexistent,
electron was a condensation of the ' field ' that was immaterial .
Wavered physics between mathematics symbols and physical
entities , in propagating potentials and
action , devised

equations whose

propagation velocity of electric


mathematical treatment created

endless debates about the nature of electricity.


Eventually the medium

theories were verified by means of

electromagnetic waves of Hertz, but after several years we learned that


the waves were not as water waves in the sea, they were as material
waves accompanying the electron, they accompanied the photon, they
were probability waves and the light was a swarm of particles, the
photons.
But I think that in effort to understand this edge area of nature, the
area of electricity and light, we put to a test the entire

philosophical

background of scientific inquiry: The main dipole that emerges in the study
of

the electric

theory is the dipole , concept reality, and the

(philosophical) relation of them is operationalism.


Operationalism

Operationalism is the view that all theoretical terms in science


must be defined only by their procedures or operations.
Operationalism is based on the intuition that we do not know the
meaning of a concept unless we have a method of measurement for it. It
is commonly considered a theory of meaning which states that we mean
by any concept nothing more than a set of operations; the concept is
synonymous with the corresponding set of operations (Bridgman
1927,).
Bridgmans

operational

analysis

explicitly

acknowledged

that

concepts were inevitably linked to human experience and that they were

Maxwells field as an operational concept ( G. Mpantes)

equivalent to the actions involved in the formulation and use of the


corresponding terms.
The logic of modern physics1 .
.Hitherto many of the concepts of physics have been defined in
terms of their properties. An excellent example is afforded by Newton's
concept of absolute time. The following quotation from the Scholium in
Book I of the Principia is illuminating:
I do not define Time, Space, Place or Motion, as being well known
to all. Only I must observe that the vulgar conceive those quantities under
no other notions but from the relation they bear to sensible objects. And
thence arise certain prejudices, for the removing of which, it will be
convenient to distinguish them into Absolute and Relative, True and
Apparent, Mathematical and Common.
(1) Absolute, True, and Mathematical Time, of itself, and from its
own nature flows equably without regard to anything external, and by
another name is called Duration .
Now there is no assurance whatever that there exists in nature
anything with properties like those assumed in the definition, and physics,
when reduced to concepts of this character, becomes as purely an
abstract science and as far removed from reality as the abstract geometry
of the mathematicians, built on postulates. It is a task for experiment to
discover whether concepts so defined correspond to anything in nature,
and we must always be prepared to find that the concepts correspond to
nothing or only partially correspond. In particular, if we examine the
definition of absolute time in the light of experiment, we find nothing in
nature with such properties.
The new attitude toward a concept is entirely different. We may
illustrate by considering the concept of length: what do we mean by the
length of an object? We evidently know what we mean by length if we can
tell what the length of any and every object is, and for the physicist
nothing more is required. To find the length of an object, we have to
1

Percy Bridgman publ. MacMillan (New York) Edition, 1927.

Maxwells field as an operational concept ( G. Mpantes)

perform certain physical operations. The concept of length is therefore


fixed when the operations by which length is measured are fixed: that is,
the concept of length involves as much as and nothing more than the set
of operations by which length is determined. In general, we mean by any
concept nothing more than a set of operations; the concept is
synonymous with a corresponding set of operations. If the concept
is physical, as of length, the operations are actual physical operations,
namely, those by which length is measured; or if the concept is mental, as
of mathematical continuity, the operations are mental operations, namely
those by which we determine whether a given aggregate of magnitudes is
continuous. It is not intended to imply that there is a hard and fast division
between physical and mental concepts, or that one kind of concept does
not always contain an element of the other; this classification of concept is
not important for our future considerations.
We must demand that the set of operations equivalent to any
concept be a unique set, for otherwise there are possibilities of ambiguity
in practical applications which we cannot admit.
It is evident that if we adopt this point of view toward concepts,
namely that the proper definition of a concept is not in terms of its
properties but in terms of actual operations, we need run no danger of
having to revise our attitude toward nature. For if experience is always
described in terms of experience, there must always be correspondence
between experience and our description of it, and we need never be
embarrassed, as we were in attempting to find in nature the prototype of
Newton's absolute time. Furthermore, if we remember that the operations
to which a physical concept are equivalent are actual physical operations,
the concepts can be defined only in the range of actual experiment, and
are undefined and meaningless in regions as yet untouched by
experiment. It follows that strictly speaking we cannot make statements
at all about regions as yet untouched, and that when we do make such
statements, as we inevitably shall, we are making a conventionalised
extrapolation, of the looseness of which we must be fully conscious, and
the justification of which is in the experiment of the future.... Also the
term "true" or "false" can be attributed to a sentence only "operationally"

Maxwells field as an operational concept ( G. Mpantes)

ie only with the description of measurements or operations needed to


verify whether or not the proposal is true ... 2
But what are operations? To take the simplest example, the
operation of counting is a mental operation, but it is an integral part of
many

physical

procedures.

He

called

such

crucial

non-physical

operations paper-and-pencil operations. Bridgman lamented that it was


the most wide spread misconception with regard to the operational
technique to think that it demanded that all concepts in physics must find
their meaning only in terms of physical operations in the laboratory. Later
he gave a rough classification of operations into the instrumental,
mental/verbal, and paper-and-pencil varieties..
This view is tested exactly in the concept of field. Bridgman himself
denies its physical existence and states that we have not even found,
manipulations linked to the objective substantiation of the field, which to
convey it in

the reality of physics. The reality of the physicist

is an

operationalist reality, other realities are not in physics research. They are
studied in the class not in the lab, the class leads us straight to the
Platonic forms.

Conclusion .
It took a long time for the philosophers of science to accept that any
theoretical concept used in a physical theory was not required to have its
counterpart in our experience (logical positivism).
But we say that
philosophy,

if we reject operationalism

from natural

then the guide of the understanding of the

world are

mathematics, we have not anything else, and this was the case of
Maxwells field. If the experimental results agree with the math results,
then the concepts . follow. We create concepts ad hoc nor understood
nor measured, basically we dress up maths with

physical concepts,

talking about logical positivism, a new intuition etc. This happens


throughout the course of the electric field in electricity. The course of the
mathematization of the world has started from there, even though
Bridgman rejects this development:
2

Bridgman, Percy Williams. 1927. The Logic of Modern Physics. New York:

Macmillan.

Maxwells field as an operational concept ( G. Mpantes)

.we are convinced that purely mathematical reasoning never can


yield physical results, that if anything physical comes out of mathematics
it must have been put in in another form. Our problem

is to find out

where the physics got into the general theory Bridgman


The concept of the field before Maxwell .
Electrostatic starts from the electric force of Coulomb, who in 1785 ,
with the help of the torsion scales which devised himself, verified Priesley
's law that:
The repulsive force between two small balls charged with the
same kind of electricity, is inversely proportional to the square of the
distance

of

their

centers.

.... Whatever the cause of electricity, we can explain all phenomena on the
assumption that there are two electric fluids, portions of the same fluid is
repelled and attracted with the portions of other fluid ........ Coulomb
The Coulomb force then mentioned among the portions of the
fluid , ie between molecules of the electric fluid , called charges and is
known from high school:

The type of this force that resembled


the type of Newton's gravity,
electricity

an

old

gave in

mathematical

background to solve practical problems .


The two central mathematical concepts of electrostatics is the field and
the potential. These help us to solve practical problems of calculation of
electric power in the bodies , and ... there it stops. In each point of a
charge, we define a vector E ( force exerted at each point of the fluid
round the charges ) .Thus the force exerted between the loads q1 and q2
is F = Eq2 where E is the field of q1 and the force F, Coulombs force. But
beware , we measure the force and we define the field.
Next , the mathematical result of the electrostatic field, is a function
of the potential U associated with the intensity from the time of Lagrange
by
3

The Logic of modern physics p169

Maxwells field as an operational concept ( G. Mpantes)

of calculating the electrostatic field with much simpler steps from the
calculation of E. This magnitude is numeric and its

physical '

interpretation ' is that any electric or other preservative system,

is

considered that it is accompanied by an imaginary energy storage, the


potential , from which it is pumped

the energy that

moves charges

through ( 2 ) . When the system generates work, it finds it on the storage


of potential so the potential energy decreases in the amount of energy
produced. The opposite happens when we give the system energy outside.
The

field

then

before

Maxwell

is

simple

mathematical

representation, just as was the Newtonian gravitational field. Has no


status independent of its source, is not material and does not connects
evolutionary the events in space and time.
This mathematical approach of the field will not remain the same
today as the field has become the reality of the natural world. In

field

electromagnetism theory constructed by the Faraday and Maxwell, fields


are basic physical entities and may be examined without reference to
material bodies . Today mathematical expressions Poisson and Gauss
( potential and field ) became realities without changing anything in the
formulas. The pulsed electric and magnetic fields can be moved in space
in the form of radio waves and other types of electromagnetic radiation.
The pre-history of Maxwells electric field

Michel Faraday revolutionized physics in 1830 with its lines of force


and the field as a physical entity . He managed to support the overthrow
of this on a careful experimental basis. Between 1864 and 1873 James
Clerk Maxwell achieved a similar breakthrough only with clear thinking 4.
The starting point of his theory, were

the experimental results of

Coulomb, Ampere, and Faraday that until 1864 expressed the laws of
electromagnetism in integral form, according to the mathematics of their
time and the ending point were the electromagnetic waves.
With the formulation of Coulomb's law, which resembled Newton's
gravitational force that led to the mechanical triumphs from earthly to
4

I believe that with Maxwells work starts this "the now widely noticeable arrogance

of mathematical physicists to give priority in formalism against experimental events


George Galeczki

Maxwells field as an operational concept ( G. Mpantes)

heavenly things , the ' electricians ' set themselves the target to build
the electric theory on the same philosophy of action at a distance, with no
assumption

about

intermediate

medium,

believing

in

similar

developments in electricity
These researchers described all phenomena , grounding a complete
electrical theory, considering the electricity consists of charged particles ,
rendered magnetism an electrical phenomenon exactly as we now
interpret it, interpreted the induction with their electrons , measured the
forces

between

currents,

between

moving

electrons,

between

accelerated electrons, ... and then were forgotten.


Eventually the British school of physics dominated, giving a strong
and coordinated ideological struggle. Its central philosophy was the
Maxwell field which were implementing the program of electric philosophy
of Faraday, on the idea of action by contact through a medium.
But the reader should understand that the discoveries of the first
half of the 19th century, that began in France and spread to Germany,
centered Gauss and his students (Weber, Riemann..),

was not a

secondary stream in physics. It remained for almost the entire 19th


century, the central line of thinking.
We will begin recounting our story with the philosophy of the great
British experimenter Michael Faraday.

The origin of Maxwells

field .

The origin of Maxwells field are the Faradays lines of force.


These lines are used to explain the action of forces from a distance.
Faraday, the great experimenter philosopher, was the first to conceive the
concept of the electromagnetic field. He distinguished, a reality of another
class from that of matter ( electrotonic state), it was something real that
was taking place in electric and magnetic phenomena. It was capable of
carrying influences from place to place without being treated like a
mathematical structure as the gravitational field of its time. In his opinion,
the phenomena of electricity and magnetism should be accessed through
the field rather than through the charged bodies and currents . In other

Maxwells field as an operational concept ( G. Mpantes)

words , according to Faraday, when a current flows through a conductor ,


the most important aspect of this phenomenon was not the electric
current , but the fields of electric and magnetic forces distributed to the
round from the area of the current.
In 1835 for wrote for intermediate particles that their contact
transfers electrical activity:
.... It seems probable and possible that the magnetic action can be
transmitted at a distance , through the action of intermediate particles in
a way that similarly the forces of static electricity are transferred in
distance. Interfering particles , we assume for the moment, that they are
in a special situation that I often express ( without much success ) the
term electrotonic situation.Faraday
This Faradys view became conviction for many generations of
physycists, after the domination of mechanical models in electricity.
How is manifested this reality for Faraday?
With lines of force which he imagined to fill all space .
Physicists were used to illustrate the magnetic forces, scattering
iron filings on a piece of paper and observing the lines formed by the
action of a magnet underneath the paper .. These lines submitted to
Faraday the idea of magnetic lines of force with which , he claimed, we
can get informations not only on the direction of the magnetic force but
also on its size. The intensity of the field, characterized by the density of
field

lines

per

unit

area

vertical

in

its

direction.

..... I do not perceive in any part of space whether (to use the common
phrase) vacant or filled with matter can help myself , anything but forces
and the lines in which they are exerted Faraday5
Later in the study of dielectric media he introduced electric field and
electric lines of force, wherein the reduction or the increase of the density
of these lines was describing the behavior of dielectric.
Faradays lines of force were the transport routes of action of the
intervening medium in electric and magnetic phenomena.
For example how work the lines of force in the law of Coulomb;
In Faradays view, the medium intervenes between the electrified
balls - whatever it is -

manifests attractions and tensions

which are

presented in "squinting " or " contraction " of the lines of force, also in
5

Experimental researches in electricity

Maxwells field as an operational concept ( G. Mpantes)

10

mutual repulsions and lateral pressures ( densification or dilution ) . So


when they end up in the other ball , these deformations are transmitted
to it and move it . When the field is more powerful the lines of force are
more and we have a

more intense effect . The

lines of force exert

mechanical actions! The idea of this spreading action from point to point
through a medium with the effect of adjacent and contiguous particles
were applicable to every area of physics in Faradays theory.
He believed in possible and probable physical existence of lines of
force for gravitation, electrostatics magnetism
He indulged in the speculation that light and radiant heat were
tremors of the lines of force: a notion which, as far as it is admitted, will
dispense with the ether , which in another view is supposed to be the
medium in which these vibrations take place .Faraday
Thus, the lines of force become an independent reality, they are
the " nerves " of the medium, which moved charged and magnetized
bodies.
Instead

of an inviolable action at a distance between two

electrified bodies, the Faraday considered the entire space between the
bodies taut and full of mutual driven off loops ..... The concept of dynamic
lines are in my opinion one of the biggest services Faradayto science ...
J.J.Thomson
..... The view consolidated views of Faraday delivers a real existence
in the dynamic lines in the sense that they exist as an independent entity
....

Grimsehl-Tomaschek

.... As a result of the researches of Faraday and Maxwell we regard the


properties of charged bodies as due to lines of force which spread out
from the bodies into the surrounding medium ... E.W. Barnes, Scientific
theory and religion )
It is better to imagine (to understand Faraday) that these ' energy
pathways ' did not appear there simultaneously with the iron filings, but
there were like landscape around the magnet, and now drifted filings in
their topography . This image, intuitively touch better in our imagination
than the idea that around the magnet there is nothing and that all
phenomenon is created by placing the iron filings. This is the reason why
the medium
physicists.

theories eventually passed through the consciousness of

Maxwells field as an operational concept ( G. Mpantes)


Instead of an intangible action at a distance

11

between two

electrified bodies , Faraday regarded the whole space, between the bodies
as full of stretched mutually repelent springs. The conception of lines of
force is in my opinion one of the greatest of Faradays many great
services to Science .J.J.Thomson

But what are these springs? How they can transfer energy? In
Faradays field , where mathematics are missing, physical processes
become Aristotelian qualitative descriptions :
.According to Ampere the existence of a magnetic field is
inseparably connected with the motion f charged bodies. But according to
Faraday the magnetic field is associate , not with the motion of charges,
but with the motion of the tubes (of lines of force) attached to them;and
since the tubes are flexible, there is every reason to suppose that the
tubes

might

move

without

the

charges.N.Campbell,

modern

electricity theory Bambridge


They are qualitative descriptions as Albert ORahily says 7:
we obtain the expression of the force -vector at any point. We
then draw the tangent-lines of this vector as a useful graph.

To

strengthen our belief we call them tubes . Next we endow them with
flexibility and declare that they might move without the charges from
which we started. Then we pick out one prtion of the force on moving
charges and call it magnetic force and similarly attribute to it flexible
independently moving tubes. Finally we declare that this double system of
tubes is the only important theory which has ever been proposed to
explain electricity magnetism and lightAlfred O Rahily
Today we know that the lines of force

are not

so a service to

science, as a contribution to the educational process. The natural


assumption

which

underscores (the ether)

has been removed. The

situation described in the following passage, brings us back to the


operationalism in definition of concepts in physics.
any

explanation

of

this

kind

which

attributes

mechanical

properties to tubes of force is highly artificial as there is no evidence for


their existence. Nowadays physicists are becoming more and more
6

Today this seems to be becoming rather excessive for celebrating the philosophy of

the field rather than the Faraday. The greatest service Faraday's science is vast experimental
work in which we met the electrical phenomena, not their interpretations
7

Electromagnetic theory by Alfred O Rahily Dover

Maxwells field as an operational concept ( G. Mpantes)

12

inclined to shun such explanations; so the mechanical explanation of the


interaction of electrically charged bodies is rapidly falling into disuse. It
still lingers in text-books, however, and it is important to recognise its
arbitrarinessPiley

Faraday, being purely experimental with little knowledge of theory,


could not perceive an electric field with the purely mathematical way. So
he

introduced the lines of force and he believed in their material

substance. .
Maxwell continued and described mathematically exactly the ideas
of Faraday's

lines of force , the field that intervenes in

electrical

phenomena . The lines of force became field and were installed as an


absolute ( materials in genesis ) reality.
We are unable to conceive of propagation in time, except either
as the flight of a material substance through space or as the propagation
of a condition of motion or stress in a medium already existing in space
Maxwell9

The school of Cambridge .


In prevalence of theories of electric medium which began with the
intuitive interpretations of Faraday, the main protagonists apart from him,
was the whole "school of Cambridge " ( as Tait , W.Thomson, Heavyside,
etc himself Maxwell) which is founded on mathematics of Green, Stokes
and W. Thomson, in which (school) dominant belief was that any physical
action is based on dynamics.
.I am never satisfied

if I can not construct a mechanical model of

something. Then only I can understand. And this is why I could not capture
the electromagnetic theory ...... I had not a moment of peace or happiness
in relation to electromagnetic theory from

November 1846 ... W.

Thomson
Thomson, began to investigate the proportions of electrical
phenomena and flexibility. These surveys showed a picture of the spread
of electrical and magnetic activity. He made the suggestion that they
8
9

Electricity Oxford 1933

Treatisep.492

Maxwells field as an operational concept ( G. Mpantes)

13

spread like the spreading the elastic displacement in an elastic solid. He


was unable to promote his instructions connecting the ideas of Faraday
to the mathematical proportions had invented. So towards the end of his
life in 1896 after the failure of login electromagnetism with mechanical
models

wrote:

.A single word characterizes

my efforts on scientific research over the

past fifty years. I do not know anything more about the electric and
magnetic force , the relationship of the ether of electricity and matter than
I knew and I taught my students fifty years ago ....W Thomson..
Maxwell was the one who showed the " electrotonic Faraday's
situation can be represented by mathematical symbols borrowing ideas
from the researches of Thomson .
Maxwell received
whose

electrical

philosophy

the torch of the " school of Cambridge "


presented

in

December

1864

at

the

presentation of his book ' A dynamic theory of the electromagnetic field . "
He then said:
It happens a tuple of phenomena in electricity and magnetism
lead to the same conclusion as that of Optics, namely that there is an
ethereal medium that permeates all bodies and is differentiated only by
their presence. That the parts of this medium are tucked in motion by
electric currents and magnets, that this movement can spread from one
part of the medium to another through forces generated from the
connections of these parts, that the influence of these forces generated
deformation dependent upon the elasticity of these connections , and
finally as a consequence of all this, it is possible to show the energy of this
medium in two forms , one as kinetic energy of the parts and the other as
dynamic energy of

its connections as a result of their elasticity

Maxwell
So then we see that we are leading to the assumption of a
complex structure capable of a multitude of movements , but also having
such connections, that the movement of one region depends according to
specific relations with the movement of other parts, which moves
associated with forces that are born from the movement of the joined
elements thanks to their elasticity . Such a mechanism should be the
object of the general laws of dynamics.

Maxwells field as an operational concept ( G. Mpantes)

14

Later Maxwell described the field in a mathematical way,


expressing the laws Faraday (induction) Ampere and Gauss, which were
expressed in integral form, in a system of partial differential equations,
where the theorems of Stokes, Green and divergence were dressed with
physical metaphors and changed the world. But still believing that these
metaphors were real, as the

lines of force of Faraday. Now they

constituted the field.


So there are two tendencies in Maxwells work: the first is the
attempt to explain electrical actions by the properties of the hypothetical
medium which is their carrier and the second is a purely mathematical
description by means of partial differential equations based on the
assumption of certain vectors specifying the electric and magnetic state of
a body. Electricity accordingly exists in two entirely different forms: the
electric substance within the conductor and the electric field in free space.
The electric field is the portion of space in the neighbourhood of
electric bodies, considered with reference to electrical phenomena
Maxwell
The space all around a magnet pervaded by the magnetic forces is
termed the field of that magnet..Livens
The space within which the ether is sensibly disturbed and within
which sensible ponderomotive forces are exercised ..is called the
electrostatic field.Drude
There is said to be an electric field in a region which is
traversed by lines of forceBragg
..In the near action theory the field strength is a reality which
exists even when the reacting bodies are removed Hertz
E is not the actual strength of the electric field at the point where
the charge e is situated, but rather the field-strength that would exist at
that point if the charge e were not present at allPlanck
We must suppose that it E exists at all points about q even when
our test charge is not present; but we can prove its existence only by
bringing the test charge toy QWhite
.... The idea of Faraday's force field -the field- has fundamentally
changed our picture of the world ... B. Bavik
Maxwell continued and described mathematically exactly the
ideas of Faradays lines of force, the field that intervenes in electrical

Maxwells field as an operational concept ( G. Mpantes)

15

phenomena and was installed as an absolute (material in genesis) reality.


The essence of the above field approaches in Faraday's perception is the
assumption that when there is not

second charge the lines of force exist

and move towards infinity . But without the second charge they are
nonexistent. The flow of Gauss in the Coulomb field is fantastic, it is a
mathematical trick to simplify the results. But in Faradays scope becomes
real, is the material factor that produces the phenomena. How believable
are they?
Any statement which is made about the electric field in the
neghbourhood of a charged body cannot strictly speaking be taken to
mean more than that a second charged body, if placed there , would
behave in a particular waythe physical reality of the magnetic pole
remains as questionable as that of the electric field ..J. Piley
Even more decisively Leech, carries us

back to pre- Faraday

period.
..... The electric field variables and E are not subject to direct
observation but their values can be derived from observations in material
systems. A clear understanding of this fact could prevent questions about
the nature of these variables. Their reality should be attributed as follows:
to be considered as mathematical entities whose importance lies in the
possibility to use them to describe and predict observable changes in the
behavior of exclusively material systems ..... Leech
Mathematical entitiesbut the mathematical entities became basic
concepts of real word.
.it follows that the (Maxwells) equations form a consistent
scheme, independently of the hypothesis from which they have been
derived,independently of any physical interpretations which may be
assigned to the various terms of the equations.we may if we please to
discard Maxwells interpretation. James Jean
Here Bridgman says:
there

would

seem

to

be

no

necessary

inherent

in

the

requirements of the model itself , that all the mathematical operations


should correspond to recognizable processes in the physical system. Nor
is there any more any reason why all the symbols appearing in the
fundamental

mathematical

equations

should

have

their

physical

counterpart, nor why purely auxiliary mathematical quantities should not

Maxwells field as an operational concept ( G. Mpantes)

16

be invented to facilitate the mathematical manipulations, if that proves


possibleBridgman
Well, what is going on? May be the charge produces a change in
the state of the surrounding aether, may be the charge extend into the
region about it, or is something incapable of description in mechanical
terms. But the important point is that if another charge is placed at any
point of such space it will be acted on by a force and accelerated. The
issue touches on philosophy. In operationalist view this important point is
the only point.
I believe that a critical examination will show that the ascription
of physical reality to the electric field is entirely

without justification. I

cannot find a single physical phenomenon or a single physical operation


by which evidence of the existence of the field may be obtained
independently of the operations which entered into the definition .i do
not believe that the additional implication of physical reality has justified
itself by bringing to light a single positive result , or can offer more than
the pragmatic plea of having stimulated a large number of experiments ,
all with persistently negative results..the electromagnetic field is an
invention and is never subject to direct observation. What we observe are
material bodies with or without

charges-including eventually

in this

category electrons- their positions, motions and the forces to which they
are subject. Bridgman

Sources .
1. Electromagnetic Theory : Alfred O Rahily. Dover Publications Inc.
New York
2. A Treatise on Electricity and magnetism : James Clerk Maxwell,
Dover Publications Inc. New York
3. Electromagnetic Waves : F.W.G. White,

Methuen &Co. LTD. New

York John Wiley & sons Inc.


4. Lectures on Electromagnetic

theory:

L. Solymar ,

Oxford

University press
5. Foundations of electromagnetic theory John R. Reitz,
Wesley publishing company

Addison

Maxwells field as an operational concept ( G. Mpantes)

17

6.Aether and Electricity: Sir Edmund Whittaker , Harper Brothers ,


New York
7. Electrodynamics: Arnold Sommerfield, Academic Press New York
and London
8. Electrodynamics and relativity, E.G. Cullwick,

Longmans, Green

and CO.
9. Electromagnetism: Hohn C. Slater and Nathaniel H. Frank, Dover
Publications Inc. New York
10.
www.mpantes.gr
George Mpantes mathematics teacher

Maxwells field as an operational concept ( G. Mpantes)

18

There are the lines of gravitation force , those of electrostatic


induction, those of magnetic action I dont perceive in any part of space
whether (to use the common phrase) vacant of filled with matter in which
they are exertedFaraday10
The man who processed and refined with mathematical modeling of
the views of Faraday, Maxwell wrote:
We are unable to conceive of propagation in time, except either
as the flight of a material substance through space or as the propagation
of a condition of motion or stress in a medium already existing in space
Maxwell11
So there is a reality in the area round of charges and currents in
the work of Maxwell and Faraday
..in theories of action by contact, the intensity of the field is a reality that
exists even though the reactive charges are removed ...... P. Hertz
even
.... The theory of Maxwell continues to yields a shelf existent reality to
the vector E independent of the presence of the test (second) charge ......
Abraham-Becker

10
11

Experimental resresearches in electicity

Treatisep.492