Physics 311 - Electromagnetic Theory I

Until the middle of the 19th century, electricity and magnetism were incorrectly thought of as two distinct and separate physical phenomena. In 1820, Hans Christian Oersted noticed that an electric current could deflect a nearby compass needle, implying a relationship between moving electric charges and magnetic fields. Later, in 1831, Michael Faraday discovered that a moving magnet generates an electric current in a wire, thus strengthening the connection between electricity and magnetism. Finally, in the early 1860s, James Clerk Maxwell supplied the missing piece to Ampere’s Law, thus intimately connecting electricity and magnetism into one unified electromagnetic theory.

These four equations, referred to as Maxwell’s equations, plus the Lorentz force law completely describe classical electromagnetic theory. In addition to yielding a unified description of electricity and magnetism, Maxwell’s equations make the remarkable prediction that light is an electromagnetic wave that moves at a finite speed, with a value precisely determined by two physical constants of the theory! Not only is electromagnetic theory regarded as a crowning achievement of 19th century physics, it also helped point Albert Einstein towards his discovery of the special theory of relativity. The significance of electromagnetic theory cannot be overstated!



Set Chapter Problems Due Date
1 1 Problems Fri, Aug 26
2 1 Problems Wed, Aug 31
3 1 Problems Mon, Sep 5
4 1 Problems Fri, Sep 9
5 2 Problems Mon, Sep 19
6 2 Problems Mon, Sep 26
7 2 Problems Mon, Oct 3
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9 3 Problems Mon, Oct 24
10 5 Problems Wed, Nov 2
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