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‘Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field’ is a biography of brilliance

How Two Men Revolutionized Physics, by Nancy Forbes and Basil Mahon

By
4:00pm, June 29, 2014

Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field: How Two Men Revolutionized Physics
Nancy Forbes and Basil Mahon
Prometheus Books, $25.95

On April 3, 1846, Charles Wheatstone was about to present the Friday evening lecture at London’s Royal Institution. He had been invited by Michael Faraday, who had long been conducting research there on electrical and magnetic phenomena.

But Wheatstone bolted, struck by an attack of glossophobia (fear of public speaking). Faraday lectured extemporaneously in Wheatstone’s place, describing recent electrical inventions. But that didn’t consume the hour. So Faraday, off the top of his head, disclosed his speculations on the underlying physics of electromagnetic phenomena. His remarks can even today be recognized as an essentially correct theory of

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