Sigo compartiendo la "Introduction" del comienzo del libro de 1929, "The electromagnetc field", Ed. Dover, escrito por Max Mason y Warren Weaver:
Impressed by Faraday's conception of lines of magnetie and electric force, and by Kelvin's analogies of the electric and magnetic field of force with heat flow, elastic deformation, and fluid motion, Max,vell turned his attention aside from elements of current or charge, and conceived of all phenolnena as due to conditions existing in a mechanical medium. From his equations there resulted the determination of the velocity of propagation of effects. Maxwell at once identified the mechanical" medium of his theory with the aether which optical phenomena had long since led physicists to consider, and founded the electromagnetic theory of light. Light became an electromagnetic phenomenon, but electronmagnetism an aether phenomenon. The vectors of Maxwell's theory expressed the state of the aether. Confidence was not lacking that the specification of the aether as an elastic medium could be obtained, so that the field equations would follow from the laws of mechanics. Heaviside and Hertz, avoiding discussion of the detailed mechanical models which Maxwell considered in the derivation of his equations, simplified the analytical statement of the theory. The resultant field equations were universally accepted as the basis of electrodynamic theory. The psychological effect of Maxwell's work was also far reaching in character. Many of his outstanding results were certainly correct, and these successes, together with the recognized genius of the man himself, naturally impressed upon the future development of the subject not only the analytical expressions for which he was responsible but also his methods of thought and his point of view. He gave to physicists a more systematic treatment of the subject than they had had, a treatment capable of bolder extensions, a theory amazingly successful in explaining old results and predicting new ones; and behind it all was the idea, so comforting to the English physicists, of a mechanical analogy. If there were difficulty or dissatisfaction because of vagueness of definition and complexity of the underlying concepts, it was overwhelmed by the prestige obtained by the great achievements of the theory. Through the following years the concepts of the Maxwell theory became firmly fixed in the mind of each student of physics. There was so much talk about lines of force, tubes of force, stresses in the medium, and localized energy that an easy familiarity with the terms began to carry with it a sense of understanding and reality, and curiosity became dulled as the years passed by. The idea of a medium whose state was expressed through the equations of the field was fundamental to the theory, and the idea of action at a distance seemed to retain a historical interest only.
Quiero destacar lo que menciona: "and behind it all was the idea, so comforting to the English physicists, of a mechanical analogy." ¿Por qué esa mención a "English physicists"? Desde Newton, la física inglesa siguió prefiriendo explicaciones mecánicas a los fenómenos, por mucho tiempo. Maxwel tiene esa tendencia: se sumerge en explicaciones "a la Descartes" de sus ideas electromagnéticas, basadas en torbellinos y acciones mecánicas. Sólo el tiempo mostrará que se pueden abandonar y tratar el fenómeno electromagnético como algo en sí mismo, sin apelar a "éter" u otras analogías mecánicas.
Otro punto a destacar, que ya algo apareció en el anterior post, es el surgimiento de la velocidad de la luz en las ecuaciones, descartando la acción instantánea a distancia. Fue una sorpresa, como toda sorpresa, inesperada aún por sus propios protagonistas.
Angel "Java" Lopez